Metro-East News

St. Clair County Zoning Board gives thumbs down to residential chicken request

Another effort to have chickens allowed in unincorporated residential areas of St. Clair County received a thumbs down on Monday from the Zoning Board of Appeals.

Jason Roedl, who lives along Eiler Road outside of Belleville, asked the county to allow chickens in residential areas.

However because of county manpower concerns, among other reasons, the zoning board recommended the Roedl petition be denied. The County Board is now scheduled to consider the matter at the end of this month.

At Monday’s public hearing, zoning board members recommended the Roedls contact county board members.

“For this to be done in St. Clair County, it needs to be addressed by the elected officials at the county board level and not have a narrow cross-section of people who are actively involved in this all show up at a meeting looking as if the board is denying them something unfairly,” Zoning Board Commissioner Scott Penny said.

Roedl and his wife, Christina, along with their two children, have 21 chickens on their one-acre property in violation of county rules.

When Jason Roedl put forward his proposal, he included some possible rules and regulations people with chickens would have to adhere to.

He suggested people who want to have chickens would have to obtain a permit from the county, which would include needing to have consent from neighbors.

Jason Roedl, who allows the chickens to roam around his family’s yard for few hours a day, recommended prohibiting roosters, slaughtering of chickens and breeding.

He recommended there be at least 1,500 square feet on a property for each chicken, and chicken coops being predator-proof, properly maintained and easily cleaned, and kept at least 5 feet from property lines.

The 1,500 square foot part of the proposal would help limit the amount of chickens on smaller properties.

“Chickens aren’t smelly, as long as you maintain their coop, clean it out once or twice a week,” Jason Roedl said.

During the meeting, Roedl mentioned cities such as St. Louis and Chicago allow residential chickens.

Christina Roedl recommended the county allow up to 10 to 15 annual permits at first on a trial basis to see how it went.

“Just as chicken owners, we have to follow a lot of rules that we are imposing on ourselves just so we’re not being the jerk neighbors,” Christina Roedl said

Zoning board members however had concerns about the smells from the animals and other unforeseen potential problems.

“There are far more people who are much less fastidious on how they do this,” Penny said. “There are odors, and there are terrible neighbors, and there are neighbors who things to spite their next door neighbor.”

If the county board ultimately denies the Roedl petition, County Zoning Director Anne Markezich said the county would give the family time to remove the chickens from their property.

Markezich said the county is under a hiring freeze.

“I cannot hire someone to do any more work than we’re doing in my office right now. I don’t have anybody else to sell permits. I don’t have anybody else to do anything at this time.”

Markezich said her office gets a chicken complaint at least once a week, and usually the chickens are running about.

“You guys are great at what you do, and are great at what you do,” she said. “The other chicken complaints I get, it’s horrible conditions when I go out there.”

Among the people who came to support the Roedl petition, was Meghan DeGroot, who tried unsuccessfully to be allowed to have chickens, goats and ducks in her backyard.

“I think (if) we pay for that permit, that would give somebody the money to go and handle what it is you’re worried about,” DeGroot said.