A passionate group of residents would like to bring a little bit of farm life to York City.

Several people asked members of the York City Council last week to consider legalizing backyard chickens.

Specifically, the pro-chicken crowd wants the ability to shelter and harvest eggs from a maximum of six hens.

They are not proposing the legalization of roosters.

At the meeting, members of the group submitted a myth-versus-reality document about backyard chickens.

For example, the group contends that chickens are not noisier, smellier or messier than other domestic animals like dogs and cats, as some might assume.

They argue that chickens would not present health hazards or decrease property values.

Many other cities, including New York, have legalized backyard chickens, Brent Inners said.

A trend: It's part of a trend toward increased self-sufficiency, Inners, a city resident, said.

And, he said, chickens "keep the bug population down."

At least one council member is less than convinced backyard chickens are a good idea for York City.

"My personal experience with chickens has been very negative," Councilman Henry Nixon said.

Nixon, who has an aunt who owns a farm, said the animals smell. And they are noisy, he said.

Nixon said he's concerned legalizing hens would ultimately open the door to roosters and cock fighting. And, he said, he doesn't want city police dealing with chicken-related disputes.

"It's simply a question of time until somebody's dog or cat kills one of their chickens," he said. "And then we're going to have to have the police involved."

Council President Carol Hill-Evans said she sees "both sides" of the issue and appreciates the group's passion.

But, Hill-Evans said, she's worried about the regulatory burden on property inspectors.

"Now that's one more job that they'll have to do," she said. "I'll reserve my final judgment for once we have this discussion."

Councilman Michael Helfrich said he's "generally in favor" of backyard chickens, but he wants to hear more from the public.

"I'm certainly in favor of folks providing healthy, fresh food for themselves," he said.

Any legislation would need to be very specific about the number of hens allowed per square footage, Helfrich said.

Abbi Jo Ferree, another resident advocating for the change, said she wants her young son to learn responsibility about keeping animals the same way she did growing up in North Codorus Township.

The group's supporters — who boast more than 120 members in their Legalize Chickens in York City group on Facebook — are willing to register their chickens with the city, Ferree said.

For Steve Kurtz, the ban on chickens has made him consider moving his family out of the city.

Kurtz said he wants his five kids to learn responsibility, too.

"We want to keep our family here," he said.

— Reach Erin James at ejames@yorkdispatch.com.