The council gave initial approval Tuesday night to an ordinance allowing residents to have up to four chickens in the city limits. If it is approved twice more, the fowl law will be added to the city code, perhaps in time for Easter chicks to parade in Powell.
Powell resident Joann Bentz brought the idea to the council on Jan. 6, and City Attorney Sandra Kitchen then prepared a detailed three-page proposed ordinance. The council discussed and debated the issue, but never considered not hatching the law.
Several restrictions are in the proposed ordinance. Roosters are banned. The birds must be kept in clean, sanitary conditions. Chicken owners will be required to obtain permits from the Powell Police Department for $5 per bird per year.
Councilman Myron Heny said police officers will be required to measure the distance between the chicken enclosures and a house to make sure it conforms with the law.
“Are those standard-issue police equipment, chicken measurers?” Councilman Josh Shorb asked.
Bentz had asked to keep six chickens, but the council chopped that down to four upon the recommendation of Police Chief Roy Eckerdt. With no roosters allowed in the city, there should not be any chicks, Kitchen said.
However, James Andrews, a local businessman and Powell resident, said he broods chickens at his home and once they hatch, he takes the chicks to a farm after a week or 10 days.
At least three local businesses sell chicks as well. The council said people and businesses would be allowed some leeway for newborn chicks.
“Happy Easter,” Mayor Don Hillman said to Andrews.
Public Works Director Gary Butts said Sanitation Director Darrell Rood wanted to make sure chicken and rabbit manure remains “tied and contained” when it is readied for disposal to avoid an unpleasant smell escaping. The waste must be collected daily and stored, then hauled away within a maximum of seven days.
The council also adopted an ordinance to set the number of animals that can be kept in a home at two.
That has been the law, but the ordinance will not apply to chickens or rabbits, which are allowed by permit. It also would not apply to the showing of animals at the Park County Fairgrounds during the county fair, or to Northwest College during any normal exhibition or display of animals, or to the Powell Animal Shelter or local veterinary clinics.