NAPERVILLE (CBS) — Naperville chicken owners dodged a bullet Tuesday when the Naperville City Council rejected a staff recommendation to require permits for fowl enclosures.

The proposed change would require enclosed coops to maintain a 25-foot distance from any neighboring home. The coop would have to be kept clean at all times, and feed kept in a rat-proof container.

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The change also would require property owners to obtain a $35 permit and submit a plan for review.

David Laird keeps 17 chickens on his property and spoke of how he got started keeping chickens during a 4-H project with his son. “We’re still in an agricultural community,” Laird said. “There’s fear with change on both sides of this issue.”

Councilman Joe McElroy asked about the possibility of a rat problem.

“I haven’t seen any rats in our house,” Laird said, stressing that he looked for droppings and protected his feed from outside predators. “Just because you have chickens, (you’re not) all of a sudden going to have rats.”

Doug Krause asked if he had any complaints from his neighbors. Laird said that he had one issue, and “it got resolved.”

But one of those neighbors didn’t think the proposed code change went far enough.

“It does not fully address our concerns,” Ronald Borghesi said.

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Borghesi argued that it was arbitrary to leave the number of chickens allowed open-ended, and pointed to the research the city did on the matter that showed the majority of area municipalities didn’t allow fowl at all.

He went to say the 25-foot limit was insufficient and that roosters should be banned.

McElroy asked if his specific concern was the smell, noise or the number of chickens.

“It’s all three,” Borghesi responded.

Mayor George Pradel noted that he grew up in Naperville in a time when it was common for families to raise chickens to supplement the family food supply. “I’m wondering if we are making rules here for something…that should be handled on a one-to-one basis,” he said. “How big a problem do we have?”

Transportation, Engineering and Development Director Marcie Schatz indicated that the city received a handful of complaints every year.

When pressed by Pradel on the actual number, Schatz said it was two or three per year.

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