New rule allows River Hills residents to keep bees, chickens

March 29, 2011

River Hills — Trustees put out the welcome mat for a select group of fowl friends and their buzzing buddies last week.

Prior to that, it wasn't legal to keep chickens or tend bee hives in the village, but it is now. You can even have a rooster if you are so inclined.

The permission does come with a caveat - make sure none of the critters disturb your neighbors. There could be repercussions.

Trustee Steve Anderson brought up the issue last month after he learned that his bee hives were off the grid, so to speak. Anderson and other trustees also know residents who have chickens but didn't realize they were breaking the law.

Village Attorney William Dineen last week told the board that in 2001 the board amended the ordinance on prohibited and nuisance animals to include exotic species using a model from another community.

"That ordinance included bees," Dineen said. No one caught what was a new restriction on bees at the time.

Only four board members attended the meeting. Three others were traveling, but those present made it as easy as possible to keep honey bees, chickens and the occasional rooster, lopping out any requirements for permits or restrictions on the numbers of hives or fowl that can be present on any property.

Trustee Peggy Russo pointed out that swarms of bees have caused issues for one of her neighbors who hired a contractor with a cherry picker to remove bees that swarmed from hives belonging to another neighbor.

Russo suggested that requiring permits would allow the village to know who is keeping bees or chickens.

But, if there is a problem, the majority felt village staff would be able to locate the problem.

The ordinance as adopted by a 4-0 vote permits hives and chickens as long as they do not "cause any unhealthy conditions or interfere with the normal use and enjoyment of human or animal life of others, any public property or property of others."

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