BEMENT — The village will soon join several other area towns in allowing chickens within its borders.
Village board members this week unanimously approved a change that will allow residents to keep up to six hens on their property, as long as the coop is at least 25 feet from neighboring, occupied structures.
Champaign last week also voted to allow residents to have between two and six hens at their homes. The practice had already been allowed in Urbana.
Monticello and Cerro Gordo also allow chickens with setback restrictions, while Atwood, Cisco and Mansfield are among the Piatt County villages with chicken bans.
In Bement, there will also be a $10 permit fee, which allows village staff to inspect the enclosure before granting permission to keep chickens. Village board member Carol Kalk, who has chickens at her home, was concerned that allowing inspections could be a violation of her Fourth Amendment ban on unreasonable searches.
But Village Attorney Susan Nicholas said random inspections are "not the intent. The intent is that they are able to get on the property to make an inspection prior to registration."
Village President Pat Tieman said there are already several families keeping chickens in town, and he felt having a formal ordinance would help clarify the issue.