La Grange chicken owner must ditch hens before possible referendum
Updated: December 19, 2012 11:11AM
LA GRANGE — Resident Jeff Cogelja lost his bid Monday to become a test case to change the village’s ordinance banning backyard chickens. A 90-day extension he was granted to comply with the rule expires Nov. 22, when his four hens must find a new home.
“I have somebody in Lisle who will take them,” Cogelja said with obvious disappointment following the Village Board meeting. “I really thought with Western Springs changing its ordinance, I’d have a chance. I don’t understand the negativity.”
Western Springs approved an ordinance Nov. 5 allowing poultry for personal use requiring residents to obtain a special use permit and house their hens in a coop. Few complaints were registered about a test case in the village, officials said.
Cogelja approached La Grange trustees in April with a petition signed by 60 residents seeking an end to the chicken ban imposed in 1981. While the board studied the matter, he ordered four hens and built a coop in his back yard on the 200 block of South Ashland Avenue.
In September, he was notified of two complaints and given time to find a new home for the birds. He argued his case before the board, but was turned down without a vote after members expressed hearing negative feedback concerning noise, smell and other problems.
Cogelja hosted an informational meeting at the library and tours of his coop before launching a petition drive to place the matter on the ballot April 9. He presented 160 signatures to the board from all parts of town, after some trustees argued only his neighbors supported the idea because of friendship.
He promised to collect more signatures and meet the required number by the deadline in January.
“I respect what you’re doing, but I’m not in a position to change the decision of the board based on x number of signatures on a petition,” said President Liz Asperger. “It is not an efficient and effective way of governing, but thanks for your petition and passion.”
Trustees Jeff Nowak and Mark Kuchler, who previously were neutral on lifting the ban, said they were more supportive of the change following Western Springs’ new ordinance, as well as Cogelja’s effort to put the question before voters.
Previously trustees Mike Horvath and Jim Palermo supported allowing chickens, and Bill Holder, Mark Langan and Asperger expressed opposition.