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McHenry Co. IL Ordinance Change

post #1 of 58
Thread Starter 

Hi all,

I'm searching for all those wanna be backyard chicken owners in McHenry Co., IL (north of Chicago).

Our local extension office has been most UNhelpful, informing me that they "don't think many people around here would be interested in that." And how, exactly, would they know?

Our local college offers several "green" and "local food" classes (as well as the "Chickens for Eggs class I just took) so I'm hoping to have better luck there. I'm also hoping to contact people in West Dundee, IL, since they just got their ordinance changed, the lucky ducks! (pun intended)

I'll be reading through all the various posts on this topic to get further ideas, but right now what I really need is other interested people. Don't expect much success as an army of one.

At present none of our towns (that I'm aware of) allow chickens. The county ordinance only allows poultry on land that is zoned Agricultural 1, and I believe the towns follow all county ordinances (at least as I understand it) so it seems like the first step might be to get the county ordinance changed (if someone else knows differently, please enlighten me.) I have seen some counties that have changed their ordinances to allow chickens.

Any suggestions, etc. greatly appreciated!

Anna

post #2 of 58

You should probably start with your town, if it is incorporated (has it's own municipal code).  Where I live, many cities within my county allow chickens, but if you don't live in the city limits, you are bound to the county zoning regulations, and they are currently stricter than those within the incorporated cities.    In other words, I currently live in Spokane County.  There are several incorporated cities within Spokane County that allow for chickens.  I live in an unincorporated part of the county.  The county does not allow chickens in the zone where I live, "low density residential".  It doesn't matter that I am a block outside of the City of Spokane Valley, which will soon allow 1 chicken per 2000 sq ft of lot space, up to 25 chickens.

Good luck!  I'm gearing up to lobby the county to follow the surrounding cities' codes to allow chickens.  I currently have 3 illegal girls living on my 1/2 acre lot.

Michelle---Outlaw suburban chicken owner
Wife to Paul, mom to Brian (11), Brooke (9), and Brent (5)
Mama hen to 3 EEs Chickie, Fluffy, and Touhou
Reply
Michelle---Outlaw suburban chicken owner
Wife to Paul, mom to Brian (11), Brooke (9), and Brent (5)
Mama hen to 3 EEs Chickie, Fluffy, and Touhou
Reply
post #3 of 58
Thread Starter 

Hi,

Thanks for the suggestion. My situation is close to yours - I live just outside the city limits on 3/4 acre, so county ordinances apply. Sad to hear that's a more challenging fight. Since my sister does live inside city limits we could start there, although she is more interested in helping me with my chickens rather than me helping with hers! I guess wherever you can make inroads it will strengthen the case elsewhere.

Please let us know what strategies you use with the county and good luck!

Anna

post #4 of 58

I live in unincorporated McHenry County as well.  My current zoning is R1, which yours probably is too.  I'm not sure what we can do about this but I am definetly looking into it.  I've been researching in every moment of my free time.  Lets keep in touch and see what happens.
-Andy

post #5 of 58
Thread Starter 

Great to hear from you, Andy!

Have you heard of a group called McHenry County Transition? I think they might be like-minded chicken souls and I'm planning to attend some of their events. They're interested in self-sufficiency. I also know one of the board members of the McHenry County Environmental Defenders and he also indicated that some of their membership would be interested. I'm on their email list but have never been actively involved. My husband and I are also involved with McHenry Co. Audubon and Northern IL Beekeepers Assoc. and might find some interest there as well. I've also had people suggest contacting MCC as they are pushing "green" right now. Have not done that yet, though.

I was originally hoping to get the backing of Extension and maybe have a public showing of the "Mad City Chickens" documentary, which chronicles Madison's ordinance change. Came up against a brick wall with Extension, however. I have some history with the Woodstock Unitarian Church and some contacts there - they might be open to showing such a film, or perhaps even MCC might.

I'm not sure that any one individual will be able to create such change, but if you were interested in getting a group started (which is what Madison did) we might have more of a chance. My sister is also interested and lives in Woodstock proper.

Did you hear that West Dundee changed their chicken ordinance in November? I'm slowly collecting ordinances...

Best,

Anna

post #6 of 58

Anna-

I'm glad to hear there is an effort among our community.  I would be interested in staying informed and will help out with whatever I can.  Please forward my email address to these groups that you are a part of (skalskoz@hotmail.com).  I think an angle that we could use the idea of keeping these areas zoned R1 but just changing or adding language that limits the amount of birds you can have, no roosters, clean coops, etc.  I think that is what most other municipalities have done.  We just need to get a hold of the right people and/or attend the right meetings.

Regards,

Andy

post #7 of 58
Thread Starter 

Hi again, Andy,

Definitely it's all about allowing chickens with some limits (I'm personally fine with that, don't really want to live next door to a noisy roo either, or a smelly coop for that matter) rather than changing zoning itself.

I'm planning to purchase a copy of the Mad City Chickens documentary soon. Madison has a nice website and they do "coop tours" in the summer. I have friends who live there so I visit pretty often.

One thing I hope to learn more about is exactly what the process is for creating ordinance change. I know it has to be determined by the County Board, City Council, etc., but nothing more - I'm neither politically savvy nor politically connected but I'm willing to learn more about the political process and see what we can make happen. If you have any more knowledge I'd love to hear...

Anna

post #8 of 58

Anna-

Unfortunately it sounds like we are politically equal.  I have not seen the Mad City Chickens but I have heard good things.  I'm also currently at a standstill with this whole thing due to financial reasons.  I am still looking into these items but I have lost some momentum because I wouldn't be able to do anything for a few years anyway.  Please, please, please keep me posted to what you here, find out, change, etc. and I will do the same.  It seems like this thread is a good place to keep swapping info.  I am still very interested in this but I just won't be able to give it my full attention.  Thanks for understanding.

-Andy

post #9 of 58

Hi all,

I am brand new to this board.  Myself and a few friends (also Woodstock/in-town residents) would like to see what we can do to get this pushed forward.  I have friends who have chickens in rural areas and my family and I would like to have 3-6 hens (no roos) for eggs.  I see that you are all working to get this going, but I am wondering if you could let me know how we can help.  I have a friend who may have some inside influence (limited, but some) so I would like to get our case made. 

Any directions?  Am I wasting my time since I live in town?

Thank you,
Brian

post #10 of 58

1) Adrian Plante in the village of Mchenry is heading-up a Facebook-based Backyard Chicken advocacy group:
"Chicago Land Urban Chicken Keepers CLUCK - McHenry Illinois"

We attended a recent meeting w/him and other supporters in front of one of the village boards. The officials had done their homework, watched Mad City Chickens, reviewed existing ordinances in other villages, did research on their own... and were very supportive of the idea. (These weren't the ultimate decision makers, but their approval sends the idea up the chain...)

Contact Adrian via the Facebook page (He'd be happy if you join the group!), and see who he might know in the Woodstock area, and what he knows about things at the County level.

2) Since the BYC community is very supportive, and "we're all in this together"... please consider supporting (with a "Like") another new Facebook-based  BYC group not too far from McHenry. It is another Chapter of CLUCK... for the 5 villages in the Round Lake Area:
"Round Lake IL Area - Chicago Land Urban Chicken Keepers (CLUCK)"

It is very common for BYC supporters to travel to other communities to assist in their efforts, and then to return the favor. With sufficient notice, we'd have no problem traveling from Round Lake Beach to Woodstock to assist in staffing a display at a community fair or library, or being part of the teeming masses in support of chickens at a Village meeting.

(As a member with a low-post count, I can't post Links yet. The group names were copied directly, so if you do a search for them by those names, you should get to the pages with no problem. They're both publicly viewable without requiring you to join Facebook first.)

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