Salem Lakes closing in on deciding lot size for chicken keeping

Three of the six Salem Lakes Village Board members present at a committee of the whole meeting Monday favored a minimum lot size of 15,000 square feet for allowing chicken keeping in residential areas.

At about a third of an acre that’s quite a bit smaller than the current two acre requirement.

But the new size is not a consensus yet. Three board members would favor allowing chickens on smaller lots and village President Diann Tesar was not at Monday’s meeting.

Revising the rules for keeping chickens in the village has been an ongoing project that has drawn substantial interest from the public and occupied board members and staff for months.

“You would not believe how many emails we have gotten from both sides,” said Trustee Dan Campion.

Said Trustee Mike Culat, who was chairing the meeting in Tesar’s absence, “We’ve had a lot of discussions with a lot of people.”

Trustees Campion, Culat and Dennis Faber said they favored the 15,000 square foot minimum. Trustees Bill Hopkins, Ted Kmiec and Ron Gandt were open to lower minimums. Gandt said he would favor as few as four hens allowed on any single family residential lot regardless of size.

About 51 percent of village parcels are below 15,000 square feet, according to data supplied by village staff.

Lot size was the first item discussed by the board using a draft ordinance with options supplied by village staff. But Kmiec returned to the size issue just before the close of the discussion to say he might not support the ordinance unless there was a way for those with smaller lots to also get a chicken keeping permit, perhaps by proving their neighbors did not object.

“I may not support this ordinance unless people with smaller sized lots have something like this,” Kmiec said of his proposal.

Culat asked interim village administrator Mike Murdock to work with Kmiec to create language for the draft ordinance incorporating Kmiec’s idea.

The board, in about two hours of discussion, discussed virtually every point of the ordinance. Some of the consensus items that developed included: no roosters, a yearly permit with a fee of $30, a onetime $80 building permit fee to make sure the required chicken coop meets ordinance specifications and no free range chickens, though hens could be allowed out of their pen if supervised by a responsible individual.

A firmed up ordinance incorporating the decisions made by the board Monday is expected to be ready for further discussion at the July committee of the whole meeting.

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