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.