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City Continues Clucking About Neighborhood Hens

Batavia residents are torn on whether or not to allow chickens in their neighborhoods. The issue was discussed Thursday night at the City Services committee meeting.

Batavia resident Betsy Zinser on Thursday night urged the City Services Committee to allow hens in backyards because it is a way the community can eliminate factory farm eggs where disease can easily thrive.

The city returned to the hen issue for the first time in months, sparking conversation for and against the animals in the city.

For a decade Naperville and St. Charles have allowed hens in residential areas. They haven’t encountered any problems, Zinser said.

But Zinser understands Batavia residents' concerns of hens attracting coyotes, and bringing disease and declining property values.

Before the meeting, the city encouraged residents to weigh in on the issue through e-mail. The city received 66 messages. The majority are in favor of allowing hens in backyards, with 20 opposed. If a neighborhood doesn't want hens, its homeowner's association could still ban them.

“I do like the overall idea. I would want to see a permit. I would want to have it monitored. I’m on the fence with this right now,” said Dawn Tenuta, a city services committee member.

The committee recommended drafting an ordinance allowing a limited number of hens in backyards. The committee will further discuss the ordinance at its next meeting and allow residents to comment.

Robert Liva, city service committee member, suggested having neighbors of hen owners decide whether they want hens in their neighborhood.

It would be tough to do that without making people uncomfortable, said City Administrator Bill McGrath.

Eldon Frydendall said unlike dogs, chickens don’t leave a deposit on the lawn.

“The thing that surprised me is that, I didn’t know having chickens was against the law. I’ve been in Batavia all my life; I can tell you there’s been chickens in Batavia all my life,” Frydendall said.

If the city decides to have an ordinance, Mayor Jeff Schielke wants the ordinance to have language that gives the city authority to quickly take care of any problems that might arise.

In Other News

The committee also approved a process for a second downtown bridge sculpture. Click to read the full story.

Matthew Hendrickson February 05, 2011 at 06:17 PM
A friend of mine kept chickens in Chicago (yes, they are legal there). They were great! As long as you move the coop around, it provides great fertilizer for gardens and chickens are very easy to take care of! Best thing was that he got fresh eggs every morning and knew exactly where they came from.
Charles Menchaca February 06, 2011 at 01:13 AM
Thanks for sharing, Matt! Always good to get another perspective. I'm glad the chickens worked out for your friend.

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