Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A Sad Day for Chickens and Roosters in Roswell

You all know that I have chickens. I love my chickens. They are wonderful pets and the only ones that I know of that supply food for their owners when they are happy and content. I have been regularly attending city council meetings in Roswell standing up for people who want to own chickens in their own backyards.

Sadly, last night the Roswell City Council passed an ordinance that severely limits the number the chickens that one can own and banned roosters all together. I know quite a few people that this will affect. They will have to give up their beloved pets, or be ticketed. If this were my community, I would already be out of compliance with 7 chickens. I would not be able to get fertilized eggs from friends to hatch at home or at school because they would no longer have roosters. This is not the end of the battle my friends. People around the world were watching this case and their cities were waiting for this ordinance to be drawn up and passed before they wrote theirs. Here is the article from the AJC.

Roswell approves backyard chicken ordinance

By Ralph Ellis

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The protesters squawked, but the Roswell City Council approved a new backyard chicken ordinance Monday night that bans roosters and uses lot size to determine how many chickens a resident can keep.

The ordinance doesn’t apply to property of two acres or more that’s zoned agricultural or land that’s been annexed from Fulton County, most of which is farmland. And chicken enclosures must be set back at least 50 feet from neighboring property lines.No birds will be allowed at single-family homes on one-third acre or less. Homeowners with one-third to one acre can keep six birds. Homeowners with more than one acre can have 12 birds per acre, up to a maximum of 36. Chickens can also be kept at schools.

The council went back and forth over roosters, which many residents said caused noise problems with crowing.

“Ban the roosters,” said resident Keith Badalamente. “I’m asking for no roosters at all.”

But a last-minute motion by Lori Henry to allow roosters died for lack of a second.

The council spent two-and-a-half hours discussing the ordinance and listened to 20 members of the public who favored and opposed an ordinance. The final vote was 6-2.

Chicken keepers seemed surprised by last minute changes.

Under the most recent version on the table, residents could have kept up to 25 birds in some sort of enclosure at single-family homes, no matter what the lot size. People already keeping more than 25 chickens could have obtained a permit for up to 15 more birds. That version was based largely on Atlanta’s law.

Andrew Wordes, who had led the charge to loosen up the city’s backyard chicken law, seemed stunned after the meeting. He said he has about 150 birds, some miniature sized, and didn't know the proposed ordinance had changed.

“I’ve got .97 acre, so legally I’m allowed six chickens,” Wordes said. “I don’t see how we can have murders happening near city hall and we’re concerned about chickens.”

Roswell code enforcement officers cited Wordes in January for keeping chickens in his backyard. Former Gov. Roy Barnes, a professed chicken lover, took on Wordes’ case. A judge threw out the old ordinance in May because it was vague.

On Monday, several chicken keepers urged the council to take no action, saying various laws on the books already dealt with noise and smell problems that occur with chickens.

Mayor Jere Wood will be affected by the ordinance. He said he keeps two chickens at his law office at Woodstock and Canton streets. Those birds will have to go somewhere else, he said.

The law takes effect right away, but residents were given a 90-day grace period to comply.


Joy said...

IF we get chickens &
IF Smyrna passes something similar
I guess we'd be exempt since we're a "school" right? I really don't want to be the first homeschool/chicken rights case in the Georgia courts!

Kara said...

Joy, I love your thinking!

Jennifer said...

That really is a shame. I hate that. I just noticed an old house up the road from me that seems to have a lot of roosters. At least I'm assuming that they were roosters. They had the classic "rooster" look. But the property might be in alpharetta or Milton and I'm pretty sure it might be zoned agriculture.
But still, I hate that.

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