Rock Springs Woman ‘Devastated’ After Council Shoots Down Backyard Chicken Proposal

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

The Rock Springs City Council on Tuesday night voted down a proposal to discuss changing city ordinances to allow residents to raise chickens in their backyards, leaving the chief proponent of the idea “devastated.”

Mackenzie Bertagnolli, whose own chickens prompted the issue, told Cowboy State Daily on Wednesday she was disappointed that the council declined to take up the proposal for discussion.

“City council voted last night to not revisit the chicken ordinance,” she said. “So I’m stuck now, not going to get my chickens back unless I break the law. They are also violating … my basic human rights to procure food.”

Bertagnolli’s chickens were the catalyst for the proposal in the first place. She was discovered about a month ago to be keeping 12 chickens at her home inside the Rock Springs city limits in violation of city ordinances. She has since rehomed the chickens elsewhere in Sweetwater County.

Ward I Councilman Tim Robinson told Cowboy State Daily that six council members voted against considering the change, while two voted for it.

Robinson said he was one of the six who voted against the discussion. He said the majority of his constituents who reached out to him were against the proposal, so he voted the way they asked.

Bertagnolli said most of the people who contacted her are in support of allowing residents to raise chickens within city limits. She wanted to take the matter to the public for a vote, rather than the council, she said.

“It’s not going past this point with city council, unless I hire an attorney or fight for my human rights,” she said.

Robinson disagreed with Bertagnolli’s claim that the council was violating her rights to procure food and said a better argument would have been to tell the council that the chickens were good pets and she loved them.

“Am I keeping you from running down to the grocery store and buying a dozen eggs or a loaf of bread? No, I think that’s a ridiculous argument,” he said. “That’s like me getting pulled over for speeding and getting a warning or a ticket and then going to the council and asking them to remove the speeding laws because I like speeding.”

Many council members have been the targets of outrage voiced by city residents on on social media, particularly on the “Sweetwater County Rants and Raves” Facebook group, where many of those posting messages have said they will vote out the council members who voted against allowing chickens.

“We are not popular people right now,” Robinson said. “Maybe I’ll be a one-term councilman.”

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