Backyard chickens are still illegal in New Castle County -- for now. County Council voted 10-3 on Tuesday against a law that would allow keeping as many as six chickens on residential lots of a half-acre to one acre. Council wants to keep intact the county's property maintenance code which prohibits farm animals on residentially zoned lots of less than an acre. The new law would have made an exception for chickens. The vote capped months of debate raised by Hockessin resident Kathleen Hildebrand, who appealed for a change in the law so she could keep a backyard flock as part of her commitment to a healthy and sustainable lifestyle. Hildebrand wants the fresh, chemical-free eggs her hens provide. Proponents said allowing backyard chickens would give residents a chance to participate in urban farming, a movement to help city dwellers and suburbanites grow their own food to ensure its healthfulness, live greener and cope with the recession. But opponents said the proposal would put a burden on neighborhoods, especially those with deed restrictions against farm animals.