Twenty-two years after Penobscot Poultry closed its doors for good, chickens may be coming back to certain areas of Belfast where they have been prohibited, though on a decidedly smaller scale.

On June 15, the City Council considered drafting an ordinance that would allow a small number of hens to be kept on residential properties to produce eggs for personal use. Under current law, chickens fall under the code relating to farming and agriculture and are prohibited from the more densely populated parts of the city, roughly described as inside the bypass.

A number of municipalities in Maine, most recently Augusta, have recently adopted ordinances that allow chickens on smaller lots. Last year, Camden voters approved up to nine small farm animals on lots smaller than 2.5 acres.

The Council appeared to be unanimous in its support for lifting the prohibition, though the exact number of chickens remains to be seen. City Planner Wayne Marshall recommended maintaining the prohibition in the downtown commercial district, working waterfront areas and the business park.

The Council charged Marshall with drafting an ordinance similar to the law currently on the books in Brunswick.

This would allow for six hens on lots smaller than a half-acre. The hens would have to be in pens, not free-ranging. Roosters would be prohibited. Several councilors thought it could be fine to allow more chickens on lots larger than a half-acre.

The Council appeared to favor a one-time licensing fee, primarily as an opportunity to distribute information about the ordinance to prospective chicken-keepers.

Marshall said the Planning Office had recently turned a blind eye to violations of the in-town chicken prohibition, responding recently to a report of a rooster, but generally overlooking illegal pens. The Council appeared to want to grant immunity to residents currently raising a small number of hens in town – prompting Councilor Mike Hurley to jokingly refer to a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.

Marshall noted that in some other municipalities, ordinances allowing chickens in dense residential areas have been expanded to include ducks, geese, bee-keeping and rabbits.

“Just something to keep in mind,” he said.

In other business, the Council:

• Accepted a gift of 40 Green Cone composting units. The devices, which are intended as a pest-proof way to compost food waste, are to be distributed to residents by the city’s recycling committee for use in a pilot program.

• Heard a request from Councilor Mike Hurley to hold the second annual downtown street party Monday, Aug. 16. Hurley said this year’s party would feature many of the same attractions as last year’s, as well as some additions. The theme is “bring a chair,” he said. Hurley requested to shift the location from last year, closing High and Church streets between Main Street and Market Street.

Mayor Walter Ash encouraged residents to attend the ending of the Trek Across Maine, Sunday, June 20, in downtown Belfast. Riders begin arriving in Belfast around 9:30 a.m., he said.