Code Interpretation


In the Brooder
8 Years
Feb 28, 2011
Hi all! Awesome discussions here. Pasted below are relevant excerpts from the code of a town we are considering moving to (Westmont, IL - Chicago suburb). The ability to raise egg layers will likely impact our decision.

The first clause is fine with me - any poultry "yard" has to be 25ft from others' residential buildings, etc. (and here they define a "yard" as a structure or enclosure that houses 2 or more birds. I can always design&build individual one-bird coop/runs, if it came down to it).

The second clause could be a problem: the "keep"ing of chickens is prohibited within 150 feet from any neighboring residence. In addition to being conflicting/redundant with the first clause - an average lot size around here is 60ft x 100ft. Depending on the placement of neighbors' houses, it might not be feasible.

So, does anyone have a legal opinion on the definition of "keep"? This is what it may come down to, in my opinion.

Sec. 14-11. - Proximity of poultry and animal yards to buildings and public ways.

It shall be unlawful to maintain in the village any poultry or animal yard within 25 feet of any building used for residential purposes by anyone other than the person maintaining such residence or by his immediate family, or within 25 feet of any public way other than an alley, or within 100 feet of any church or school building.

(Code 1972, § 6-11)

Sec. 14-12. - Proximity of cattle and chickens to residential property.

It shall be unlawful for any person to keep any cattle or chickens within 150 feet of any residence, other than the residence of the person so keeping or having the cattle or chickens.

(Code 1972, § 6-12)
Well, there you can keep poultry, just not ducks, guineas, etc.

Do they have a definitions section? Sorry I can't be of any real help. Looks like a lot of typical laws/codes I've seen. Contradictions everywhere and which gets enforced varies from one enforcement officer to the next. Checking with the clerk may or may not help.

Ours are pretty cut and dry when it comes to poultry, but out of the 5-6 public employees who should know or at the very least shouldn't have any problems looking it up, only one that I know of actually knows what our city codes are concerning poultry. The local AC officer doesn't even have it right. We need a $2 yearly permit to keep any poultry. He thinks you only need it to keep roosters last I heard.

Good luck!
I'm not sure, either. It sounds like you can't keep the actual coop or enclosure any closer than 25 feet from your neighbor's homes, but if you free range, they have to stay at least 150 feet from your neighbor's home. That's the way I see it, but it's better to ask someone to get a better clarification.

Keep generally means taking care of or raising animals.
Last edited:
They do have definitions for "poultry" and "yard" but not for "keep".

I guess the intent was to say: yes, you can keep animals/poultry (as long as they are 25 ft distant) but if you have cattle/chickens then you need to move back to 150ft. But why they didn't just use the exact same language, I don't know. Makes for confusion.
Ahhh, sorry just reread and caught the definitions. So the way it reads you can have a coop and run so long as you abide by the minimum distances. You just can't actually keep/house any chickens in that coop/yard according to the second clause without being out of compliance. I see what you mean about the individual coops/yards being technically legal because of their definitions.

What is their definition of poultry?
Yes exactly: you can build a chicken coop 25ft or more from a neighboring residence, you just can't keep any chickens in it unless it is 150ft away!

Animal yard means any enclosure, shed, or structure used to house animals, except for common household pets.

Fowl means and includes chickens, ducks, geese and any other poultry.

Poultry yard means any enclosure, shed or structure used to house two or more live fowl. can keep ducks, geese, quail, pigeons, peafowl....Ohhhh I vote for peafowl!!!!!

Maybe the intention was to allow small numbers, but they didn't quite word it well/think it through. Honestly the additional space requirement for schools and churches seems odd to me. Like they're some kind of "adult" item to be kept away from innocents.
Probably was meant as a noise or sanitation thing, but still strange.

By there being no definition of keep I guess you could always argue that they're layers you'll be turning over every couple of years, so not really "keeping" them. I imagine that would go over as well as building individual coops/runs if there's ever an issue. I would try to get clarification and if it's favorable, get something in writing and keep it with a copy of the rest with the first clause highlighted. If there was a problem and you whipped that stuff out, that would stop most people from even looking into the rest or questioning it. If someone with connections had a problem with it, it could potentially go further, but that's true no matter what any law says.

New posts New threads Active threads

Top Bottom