This post comes courtesy of Patricia Salkin and her Law of the Land blog. I love chicken litigation…
Plaintiff, City of Sparta, a municipal corporation, brought an ordinance violation action against defendant, Tim Page, alleging that Page was conducting an unpermitted use in a residential district, contrary to the provisions of the local zoning ordinance. Defendant Page resides on a one and one-half acre tract of land within the city limits in an R–4 residential district as established by plaintiff’s zoning ordinance. He had been raising chickens for approximately four years on his property and considered his three chickens as pets, and did not use them for any commercial enterprise. The trial court found that raising pet chickens was not prohibited by the city code; because Page’s activities were not commercial in nature, they did not constitute agricultural use. Plaintiff appealed contending that the court’s decision was against the manifest weight of the evidence and contrary to law.
Here, the court found that the primary use of Page’s property was residential since Page and his wife lived in the house on the property as part of their normal everyday life. Moreover, normal incidental uses of residential homes and property include having pets. While other provisions of the zoning code specifically prohibited swine, cattle, horses, mules or game birds within residential neighborhoods, the court noted that a chicken was not a game bird. Because chickens were not specifically prohibited, and no commercial agricultural use pertaining to the chickens was established, Page’s owning of and keeping three pet chickens on his property was held to not constitute agricultural use as contemplated by the zoning code. Accordingly, the chickens were found to be an incidental permitted use of the property, and the holding of the trial court was affirmed.
City of Sparta v. Page
Illinois Court of Appeals, October 22, 2015