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Backyard chicken ownership proposal for unincorporated DeKalb County residents heads to county board for vote

SYCAMORE – An ordinance amendment that would allow chickens on unincorporated DeKalb County residential land that’s less than two acres is set to go before the County Board next week.

Derek Hiland, community development director for DeKalb County, previously said this ordinance would apply to the densest and most spaced out unincorporated residential lots that are two acres or less. However, he said during the county’s planning and zoning committee meeting on Thursday, it might not be possible for people on smaller unincorporated residential lots in some neighborhoods to meet those setback requirements.

“If it’s 50 feet from any residence on a lot, there are probably some unique circumstances where that would work,” Hiland said. “But if you have smaller lots in a rural residential subdivision – so the densities are higher and the homes are closer together – it’s quite plausible that those owners wouldn’t have this as an option as the language is currently drafted.”

The DeKalb County planning and zoning committee on Thursday voted, 6-0, to bring the amendment to the County Board during its meeting scheduled for 7 p.m. Wednesday via Zoom. Committee member Tracy Jones was absent from the Thursday meeting.

Hiland also said the setback measurement goes from neighbor’s houses to coop.

The update comes after the committee previously discussed the ordinance text amendment last month. It would allow for residents to submit an application that would allow them to keep chickens on smaller unincorporated residential lots, provided they meet county setback requirements and they are not deemed a nuisance.

County officials previously said the proposal – which was submitted by James and Sarah Mueller of unincorporated Genoa – initially arose for the county last summer. Someone complained to the county about chickens and roosters being kept on unincorporated property less than two acres in size, which was an apparent violation of the county’s current ordinance, according to staff.

Jonathan Pope, lawyer for the Muellers, said his clients did not object to the proposed amendment during the Thursday meeting. Both Muellers also attended the virtual meeting but did not speak during the meeting.

DeKalb County Board Chairman Mark Pietrowski said he also would like to see a way for applicants to be considered on a special use basis, should they not meet the requirements as written.

“But I’m fine with where it’s at, too,” Pietrowski said before the committee vote.

According to county documents, no members of the public spoke against the proposal of having chickens on residential property less than two acres large during a Sept. 24 public hearing. DeKalb County Hearing Officer Dale Clark recommended approval for the zoning text amendment, which would require hen coops and yards to be 50 feet away from any residence on a neighboring lot, to not be located in a lot’s front yard and for applicants to pay an annual $20 application and license fee.

Source: The Daily Chronicle

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