Proponents of backyard chickens saw their dreams fly the coop last week in Powell.

Members of Powell City Council on April 4 voted 5-2 to reject an ordinance that would have allowed residents to install coops and keep up to six chickens in their backyards.

The legislative change had been backed by 11-year-old city resident Maggie Carter, who said she wanted to "learn about raising chickens and collect eggs from a known, healthy source."

Vice Mayor Jon Bennehoof said experts he consulted considered backyard chickens a "bad idea" for a suburban environment such as Powell. He said the possibility that pet chickens could spread diseases to city residents prevented him from supporting the change.

"There are just far too many variables," he said.

Councilman Tom Counts said there are persuasive arguments for both sides of the issue, but he could not support the proposal.

"I think that agricultural use is something that needs to be separated from residential use," he said.

Councilmen Brendan Newcomb and Jim Hrivnak cast votes in favor of the change.

Newcomb said he liked the idea of returning the decision on whether to keep chickens to individuals or their homeowners associations.

"I think this is an instance where we should have more freedom," he said.

Council declined to vote on the ordinance in December and referred the matter back to the city's Planning and Zoning Commission. The board returned the proposal to council after lowering the number of chickens that would be allowed from nine to six and requiring a public hearing before a permit could be issued, among other changes.

Hrivnak said addition of the public-hearing requirement led him to support the measure.

Councilman Dan Swartwout said Maggie "raised some excellent points," but added he could not support the change unless he saw a groundswell of support among city residents for allowing chickens.

"That really hasn't happened," he said.

Maggie said during her push to change the rules, some critics said chickens fly in the face of Powell's image. She said the city needs to grow along with its residents.

"Powell continues to change (and) so must our ideas," she said.

tgallick@thisweeknews.com

@TWGallick