The issue of backyard chickens is again being discussed by the Geneseo City Council, this time egged on by alderman Brett Barnhart.

The issue was first broached in Geneseo in 2014 when a group of citizens circulated a change.org petition asking for the city to permit small flocks of chickens.

After several months of discussion and debate, the proposal was scrambled by alderman who voted 4-3 against chickens.

At the time, supporters of backyard chickens had promoted the birds’ educational value as well as desires to raise home-grown eggs.

Opponents were against the birds’ potential for disease, smell and predator attraction.

The trend of city dwellers raising chickens has been on the rise in the last decade. Moline, Davenport, Rock Island and East Moline all permit backyard chickens, as do a number of larger suburban cities, such as Naperville.

Barnhart said he and his family are passionate about the issue and noted “a lot of people in my neighborhood also want chickens.”

Barnhart called the poultry “much less intrusive than dogs or cats.”

Barnhart proposed an ordinance which would allow flocks of six or fewer hens, no roosters would be permitted.

Under his proposal, coops would be required and no chicken structure could be within 25 feet of a residential structure.

No slaughtering, fighting or free-range chicken would be permitted.

Alderman Bob Wachtel said he’d vote against allowing chicken in the city, noting a number of residents he spoke with had a “not-in-my-backyard” feeling about the birds.

“It was near unanimous that they smell and bring varmints,” said Wachtel.

Other aldermen had concerns regarding ordinance enforcement should the poultry be allowed.

“Who would be the chicken police?” asked alderman Craig Arnold.

The issue was discussed at the Tuesday, Jan. 24 committee of the whole meeting. Aldermen voted 5-2 to forward the issue to the February city council meeting. Aldermen Wachtel and Paula Simosky voted against the proposal. Martin Rothschild was absent.