WOODMERE — Council was expected to vote on a permit for Daniel and Mehtap Akben to legally keep chickens at their residence on Irving Park Avenue at the Oct. 14 council meeting. Instead, council members voted 4-3 to delay the permit decision until the Nov. 11 council meeting so they could look into whether other residents have live chickens without a permit.
Councilwomen Lisa Brockwell, Nakeshia Nickerson and Vivian Walker and Councilman Tennyson Adams voted to delay the permit decision. Councilwomen Glenda Todd-Miller and Jennifer Mitchell Earley and Councilman Craig Wade voted against delaying the decision.
Law Director Frank Consolo said that the Akbens were given a notice on Aug. 4 that they had 60 days to remove the chickens. They did not apply for the permit until mid-September. The 60-day notice expired on Oct. 3 and they do not have a permit, so the family is subject to a citation for violating the ordinance. Mr. Consolo said that police went to the Akben’s home to cite them on Oct. 15, but no one was home.
On Tuesday, Mr. Akben said that the chickens are at a friend’s house in Chester Township until council votes on the requested permit next month. If the Akbens receive a permit, the chickens can return. Police Chief Sheila Mason said that the Akbens were not cited.
Mayor Ben Holbert said his administration is duty bound to enforce village laws.
“I would hope there would be some way that humans and chickens could coexist,” the mayor added.
At the start of the council meeting last week, several residents, including Joyce Holbert of Avondale Road, said they know of other families with live chickens in their yard. She said that council needs to ensure that everyone with chickens also has a permit.
Maplecrest Road resident Rachel Kabb-Effron said that the Akbens are not the only ones with chickens. She said that if the village is enforcing the same law differently for different residents, Woodmere could be opening itself up for litigation. Mr. Consolo said that he is not aware of any other fowl in the village.
“I don’t think we have a situation where the village is aware of and has allowed other residents to maintain fowl and in this particular instance is treating the Akbens differently,” he said. “I’m not concerned that we are entering into what somebody referred to as unconstitutional area or a violation of law.”
Shelley Ross, who lives across the street from the Akbens, said during the council meeting that there is a prominent “skunk smell” outside her house due to the chickens. She voiced the same opposition during a public hearing on Oct. 1.
After several residents stated that there are other chickens in Woodmere, council members discussed their next steps. Ms. Walker said that she has heard a rooster in the morning but does not know where it is. Ms. Nickerson said that if residents know of other chickens, council should do an investigation.
“I’ve never seen any other chicken in Woodmere and if there is, I think that’s something that would have to be looked at,” Ms. Brockwell said. “When I’m deciding how I’m going to vote, I have to [think of] the neighbors where the chickens are now that the complaints have taken place and some of the concerns I’ve had as well. This isn’t something that I would want to have [dragged] out for any period of time.”
Ms. Earley said that she is not aware of other chickens and the village has laws that need to be upheld. Council will consider the permit in November.