By Travis Morse The Journal-Standard Posted Dec 13, 2012 @ 05:55 PM Freeport, Ill. — The Stephenson County Board has cleared the way for property owners in residentially zoned areas to raise chickens. Properties in the City of Freeport are excluded from the ordinance, which was passed Wednesday and takes effect immediately. The measure prohibits roosters and makes clear that chickens cannot be raised for commercial purposes. It places no restrictions on the number of chickens and imposes no permit requirement. Before the vote, the issue sparked heated debate among board members and the audience. “I’m not looking to create a nuisance,” said an audience member of rural Freeport, whose family’s request prompted the county to draft the ordinance. “I think raising two to four hens would be virtually unnoticeable to my neighbors.” They, plan to raise hens for eggs and to give their three kids the chance to show the birds at the county fair. Others in the audience, who live near them, objected to the idea of permitting chickens there. One voiced concerns about the smell, and another said the chickens could disturb their quiet, peaceful community. “It’s a beautiful subdivision. I’d kind of like to keep it that way,” she said. Another neighbor, said she worried that residents would abuse the ordinance. “If the ordinance doesn’t have strict guidelines, there will be people with 40 chickens on half an acre,” she said. Advocates of the measure based their support on respect for property rights and maintained that residents should be able to raise chickens to feed their families. “It’s time we start getting government out of micro-managing our own personal lives,” one County Board member said. For more information on the ordinance, contact the County Zoning Office at (815) 599-0344. Our county board is awesome!!!