Backyard chicken group gets another commissioner’s support
by Jon Gillooly
September 25, 2012 12:28 AM | 5325 views | 30 30 comments | 16 16 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Commissioner Helen Goreham
Commissioner Helen Goreham
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MARIETTA — The Backyard Chickens Alliance of Cobb County, a group that wants to loosen county restrictions on owning chickens, received some good news on Monday when Northwest Cobb Commissioner Helen Goreham agreed to consider the need for such a code change.

It takes two commissioners to bring forward a request for a code change. Before Monday, Southeast Cobb Commissioner Bob Ott was the only one on record willing to consider the need to change the code dealing with chickens.

But Goreham told the Journal on Monday she would join Ott in the request.

“We’re awaiting research by Community Development on proposals for possible changes, but it doesn’t mean we’re supportive of it until we see that material,” Goreham said.

Rob Hosack, the county’s community development director, said the commission considers code changes in January.

“Ultimately it would end up being in a package that would be presented for public discussion at the very beginning of January with public hearings in January and February,” Hosack said.

Northeast Cobb Commissioner JoAnn Birrell said last week she opposes a change to the existing code, which requires two acres to have chickens.

“What’s appropriate in some areas is not necessarily appropriate in other areas,” Birrell said. “If you look at my district where you have subdivisions with any density at all and half acre lots you have people who don’t want chickens and the issues that come with that. You hear a lot of issues from complaints from noise to odor, nuisance, whatever. I don’t support changing the code.”

Southwest Cobb Commissioner Woody Thompson, who will be replaced by Commissioner-elect Lisa Cupid in January, agrees with Birrell.

“If you’ve ever seen someone putting chicken litter on their yard to get a quick start on their grass and it rains on it, it will run you out of town,” Thompson said.

Lee is not supportive of changing the code either.

“Chickens are not domestic animals as I define them, and I have no interest in having that issue grow as it relates to people’s backyards and neighborhoods,” Lee said.

Cupid said she hasn’t made up her mind.

“Driving through my district, I see them in front yards all the time,” Cupid said.

Moreover, the chickens she sees do not live on lots that are two acres or larger, she said.

“I’d have to do more research to know what the opposing arguments are, because I’ve mostly heard from people for it in the district, not from persons that are against it,” Cupid said. “I personally don’t have anything against it, but then again my neighbor doesn’t have any.”

East Cobb plumber Joseph Pond formed the Backyard Chickens Alliance after he was cited by the county’s code enforcement department last year for keeping a dozen hens on his half acre property.

Pond said he was turned in by his neighbor, Carole Kell, mother of Cobb Superior Court Judge Tain Kell.

“Carole Kell lives directly behind me,” Pond said. “She told me that she called or emailed JoAnn Birell to inquire about the legality of my chickens even though she knew they were illegal. She told me that they were going to ruin her property value.”

Pond said although he has a six foot privacy fence around his backyard, Kell lives on a hill and can therefore see over it.

Kell disputes Pond’s allegation that she turned him in.

“You know, that was so bandied back and forth in the press when it all came up,” Kell said. “I will just say that he is mistaken, and he doesn’t believe that, but he is.”

At the same time, Kell believes the code should remain the way it is.

“I don’t think chickens are needed in an urban area when houses are in such close proximity,” she said. “I think that the two-acre allowance or prohibition is a good one. … There needs to be more space for them.”

Pond said he tried to obtain a variance from the county.

“They would not issue me a variance,” he said. “I tried to take the county to court and my paperwork wasn’t filed 100 percent properly, so in November I gave my chickens away.”

Hearing that Goreham had joined Ott in wanting to explore the need for a code amendment, Pond said he was “ecstatic.”

Pond said the number of chickens an individual keeps for pets and egg production does not produce an odor that would disturb nearby neighbors. And as for noise, it’s only roosters that crow loudly, not hens, he said.

Pond said the goal of his group is to have poultry taken out of the same designation as livestock and wild, exotic animals.

“I would like to see poultry treated under the same rules as pets,” he said. “I have been working very hard, very diligently for well over a year now towards this goal. It’s like I told the commissioners in the past: Backyard chickens aren’t for everyone, but everyone should have the right to own backyard chickens.”

Should Cobb residents be allowed to keep chickens on less than 2 acres?


Comments
(30)
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Mitzi S.
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October 01, 2012
I live in an upper-middle class neighborhood in East Cobb on less than an acre lot. I've had chickens for almost 3 years and the only neighbors that even know they exist are the ones I share eggs with. That's because my 6 hens are QUIET and they DON'T SMELL. Plus, they go to sleep every night at sundown...unlike my neighbor's LOUD dog that howls at the moon all night long.

Raising chickens is a conscientious choice to NOT support the horrendous poultry factories that treat chickens inhumanely and pump them full of hormones and antibiotics.

I would be proud to live in a county that supports it's citizen's rights to make this world a better place to live it.
To: Mitzi
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October 02, 2012
You are breaking the law. There is a noise ordinance for barking dogs and a 2 acre minimum for CHICKENS.
animal discriminatio
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September 26, 2012
"You hear a lot of issues from complaints from noise to odor, nuisance, whatever." - I could say the same about dogs!

I hope they do change the ordinance. It is ridiculous that people can have a yard full of dogs or cats but not chickens. Just like anything else, the conscienciousness of the owner is what determines the nuisance level.
De Peaslee
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September 25, 2012
2 acres?! Really? I have 6 on 1/4 acre in So. Portland, Maine. A very populated town and nieghborhood, and most people, who walk within 15' of my backyard where the girld free-range in an enclosed chain-linked yard, don't even know that I HAVE chickens.
anonymous
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September 25, 2012
I absolutely think we should be able to have chickens in Cobb!
Allen Rodi
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September 25, 2012
I live in Lisa Cupid's district. I've had the opportunity to visit many homes in the Smyrna area of Cobb County as well as in the county. There are a number of very nice homes in the Forest Hills neighborhood that have small coops for six or less hens. Forest Hills is a very nice neighborhood and the owners of these flocks typically have some birds that feel like designer pets. Their owner's mentality is that of open-minded steward of eco-living solutions verses the close-minded, "I don't like it or know anything about it, so I'm against it." attitude. Perceptions are negative because people don't have familiarity with outside birds. This attitude is a type of bigotry.

I expect that the more people understand how much of an ecological friend these fine-feathered beasts are they will want more of them. The eggs bring people together as neighbors taste the higher level of food quality. This has been the case in my community. The waste can produce an odor when composting, but the quality and benefit to gardening is significant. It’s not as pungent as Commissioner Thompson makes it out to be. Growing and sharing local food reduces oil consumption through reduced trips to the store and has the potential to increase pleasant local social interaction. Local social interaction is greatly missing in many of our neighborhoods and the source of allot of insanity. Added to those benefits is a cost-neutral source of protein that provides children with a healthy understanding of what it takes to provide good food.

Raising chickens also gives a healthy sense of social responsibility and increases our practice of recapturing a producer economy on an intimate neighbor level. Our communities need this kind of thinking to move us out of our economic ‘do-it-for-me’ grogginess. VOTE for Intelligent Responsible Living! Vote CHICKEN on less than 2 Acres.

We are after all the HOME of the BIG Chicken =) Let's take that to the next level.
I Say
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September 26, 2012
Amen to that. Backyard chickens in Cobb County a big fat YES!!!!!
Joan Shore
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September 25, 2012
"Mr Realtor", would you be more inclined to show a house with a dozen dogs next door? How quiet would that be? I would hesitate to buy a house from you at all, as your info at the best, is inaccurate and you cannot accuratley spell names, his name is MR. Pond, not pool:-D and he is not afraid to give his name, why are you! "there goes the hood" why are you trying to steal personal liberties? Homes taken care, with or without animals of any kind, hold their value. Why dont you 2 take off the blinders, go to the Coop Tour, SEE it for yourself, instead of sitting here throwing rock, make an educated decision:-) You might learn something!
Kristin Picken
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September 25, 2012
As a Cobb county resident I am excited about this recent development. Many young families would like to have a few chickens as pets and for the fresh eggs.

Please - before you throw eggs at the idea - the 5th Annual Urban Coop Tour is taking place the first weekend in October in Atlanta. People have been raising small backyard flocks there for years and there are 13 coops to tour spread out over some lovely neighborhoods.

Joseph Pond
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September 25, 2012
Chickens are legal in most areas around Cobb County including Atlanta, Roswell,& Milton. People with pet chickens are choosing NOT to live in Cobb County. Those are unsold houses, and money not flowing into our local economy. I hear all of this talk of bringing business to Cobb, yet local code drives people away. There are three feed stores in Cobb that would love the boost to their sales. Williams-Sonoma sells chicken coops- I am certain that someone could create a lucrative business making high-end coops. Pikes Nursery gets a pretty penny for chicken litter, as Commissioner Thompson called it, as well.

Chairman Lee may not consider them domestic animals, but the rest of the free world does! I would like to find out more information on the issues from complaints about noise, odor, and nuisances from Commissioner Birrell. There are specific existing ordinances concerning those things that people use every day when it comes to barking dogs, irresponsible pet owners, leaf blowers, garbage trucks, and so on. Local HOAs and their covenants will take care of those areas where poultry is not appropriate.

We need decisions based on facts, not prejudices and personal opinions.
Toni R.
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September 25, 2012
I completely agree!!!
Harolsberg
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September 25, 2012
You want decisions based on facts, not prejudices and personal opinions? You came to the WRONG place!!!
there goes the hood
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September 25, 2012
I would NEVER buy a home in a subdivision which had chickens, as I am sure the majority of people who consider their homes an investment agree. Keep the chickens on the farms and large lots where they belong. Don't devalue all the homes in a neighborhood by thousands of dollars so one owner can save a few bucks. In effect you are stealing from your neighbors. And if you need a pet get a dog.
Joseph Pond
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September 25, 2012
The Georgia Association of Realtors does not share your opinion on the effect of poultry in a neighborhood. They say that it cannot devalue a home, or a neighborhood. Buckhead, Milton, Decatur, the Emory area, and so on are living proof of this! I have passed on houses that are next door to barking dogs. Did that devalue the house?

Responsible people take care of their homes, their property, and their pets. Irresponsible people devalue homes and neighborhoods by not taking care of their homes and properties. It is just that simple~
Kristin Picken
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September 25, 2012
The 5th annual Urban Coop tour is October 6&7 in Atlanta. You can see coops in Decatur, Oakhurst, Candler Park, Virginia Highland, East Atlanta and Grant Park. These are nice neighborhoods and yes homes are selling there.

Lisa Oden
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September 25, 2012
As a REALTOR, I completely agree with Joseph. I would not hesitate to show or even purchase a property next to chickens. I'm FAR more concerned with loose dogs roaming neighborhoods (and I AM a dog person). I'm really tired of being chased by little barking, biting dogs and big, aggressive dogs when I run.

The claim that chickens lower property value is without merit.
Ken Cook, Jr.
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September 25, 2012
"there goes the hood" I don't know who you are but if you've been in real estate long you likely know me. 3600 closed deals and owner of a successful brokerage and mortgage lender based here in Cobb as well as a nationally known real estate marketing company. I'll take your bet about value, sales and chickens. But it's not about that because you can choose to live in a PUD, I'm sure you know what those are, with C&Rs to match your desires. People who live outside of those should not be impeded by them ... like my multi-million dollar home on 1.97 acres in East Cobb.
De Peaslee
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September 25, 2012
I would much rather live next door to a home that has 6 hens than 1 dog, that can, and often do, bark non-stop for an hour or more at a time every day, over a few hens than barely make a sound, unless its anouncing a layed egg.
Subdivisions!
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September 25, 2012
I would never buy property in a subdivision unless it was for renting to SUV driving pro-sports loving morons.

The cheapo "houses" rotting away in subdivisions that are populated, for now, with microwave dinner eating Kroger shoppers are what devalue an area!!

Cobb is viewed in a positive light only for the Big Chicken Cobb is known for plenty of negatives, and they ALL live in "subdivisions"!!

Ban subdivisions and bring on the chickens!
Margarita S.
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September 25, 2012
As a potential future home owner, I would not consider a county or city in which I could not own chickens in my half-acre yard. If I am responsible enough to maintain as many dogs, cats, bunnies, turtles, ferrets and pigs as I want, I believe I am responsible enough to maintain pet chickens in a neighborly way & enjoy the food their eggs provide. This is very important to me as our society continues to struggle economically.
AJW from Cobb
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September 25, 2012
Things that devalue neighborhoods:

- Noisy or loose dogs

- Lots of renters

- Folks who don't maintain their property (mostly front yards, since many backyards are private)

- Other nearby detractors (grungy strip malls, vacant businesses, etc.)

Things that don't devalue neighborhoods:

- Well kept front yards

- Well maintained houses (painted, clean gutters, etc.)

- Well kept backyard gardens, even those with chickens, which can play an integral part of the ecosystem by eating bugs and providing compost (composted manure doesn't smell, btw)

Responsible stewardship should be allowed! Poor management (noise complaints, loose animals) will still be a violation of code.

What many people don't realize is that a well-kept small number of hens are not seen or heard much. Many lots in Cobb, including my own, are almost 1 acre, in wooded neighborhoods or ones with large, private backyards. 3 or 4 hens would never be a nuisance to neighbors because they are similarly shielded by trees and large spaces.

However, my neighbor across the street (a renter) let their dog run loose (I called animal control - you can do the same for any other noisy animals, including roosters) and the one down the road has a little yapper that terrorizes every passerby.

Why will you protect their right to raise as many barking dogs as they can, but not my right to keep to myself and raise a few small, quiet, productive animals that will never leave my private backyard?
Chicken Whisperer
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September 25, 2012
Show me the proof! Show me where a homeowner received less for their home they were selling because a neighbor kept backyard chickens, or because the town they were selling in allowed backyard chickens. I have asked for this information nationally for years traveling the country promoting backyard chickens. The proof does not exist. Also, I can find just as many realtors that are pro backyard chickens as against. I saw this in Nashville when they too were in the middle of changing their chicken laws. For every realtor that spoke against it, another realtor spoke in favor of it.
False on Realtors
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September 25, 2012
As a realtor I must disagree. I would avoid bringing a client to a home near chickens unless the buyer specifically asks for it (which has never happened). First impressions are most important and a chicken coop as a next door neighbor is an immediate turn off especially people moving here from other big cities. And as far as Atlanta having chickens, I have never seen one in Buckhead or any of the nicer areas of Atlanta. Please show me where realtors support chickens because I doubt you have the correct facts. And Mr. Pool Cobb County does allow Chickens, just not where it would devalue the neighborhoods. And frankly if people choose not to live in Cobb because we have a reasonable policy against livestock so be it. Who needs them?
Ron McClellan
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September 26, 2012
"False on Chickens" and "there goes the hood" You kind of made the case against yourself, heheh.

False on Chickens: You almost assuredly have sold a home that had chickens nearby, and even likely right next door, and didn't even know it. And as evidenced by your observing that chickens weren't a problem AT ALL when ya drove through Atlanta, the sky doesn't fall when people keep 8 pound birds . . . . duh.

There goes the Hood: If you wouldn't move into a subdivision because a resident had chickens . . .well . . .you would likely never move into any neighborhood that didn't have an anal-retentive HOA.

I have over 70 chickens in a residential neighborhood, on 5/8 of an acre . . . .and the neighbors have no problem with'em.

Further, this should actually be a non issue, period. "Liberty" and all that. Sadly, most "chicken activists" are all too willing to sell out their liberty and play along with ridiculous "4 hen limits" and such.

Inadvertently, they actually help surrender our Constitution to governmental big-brotherism by taking the easy way out. It's my right to keep a chicken on my property if I want to, or 4 or 10, or 100 for that matter, if I can do so without unduly infringing on the right of quiet enjoyment and other rights of others (and I CAN do that)

The only real chicken-specific legislation we need is . . .well . . .none. Government, get off my lawn. Chicken Whisperer . . .you are leading folks down the wrong path, dude. You fight . . .well . . .like a girl. Easy to rack up the "wins" when ya set the bar so very, VERY low. Joseph Pond: You're even weaker.
mike jones
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September 25, 2012
I have had chickens for a couple of years and they can be pretty annoying if not properly kept. If you keep them in the coop, or have a fence that keeps them in your yard only, and don't have a rooster, they don't normally bother anyone.
ConcernedCobbCitizen
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September 25, 2012
As a former realtor I had a friend ask me just this past weekend to help her find a house here in East Cobb. I pulled several listings from Realtor.com and we rode around yesterday. She saw one she really liked so we got out to walk around to check out the backyard. We were "greeted" by four barking dogs in the neighbor's chain-link fenced backyard the second we rounded the corner. My friend had seen all she needed and the house was immediately crossed off the list. Had they been four chickens I doubt she would have even known they were there. So tell me again why dogs and not chickens? This county is NOT urban. I've lived here ALL my life and it actually used to be quite rural....and a much nicer place to live.
WC Fields
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September 25, 2012
Step one: Start desensitizing the public by placing absurdly painted wooden chickens in the nicer parts of town.

Check.

Step two: ?

Step three: PROFIT
VFP42
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September 25, 2012


I say bring on the chickens to improve our economy.

The 1% living on our hilltops will be motivated (by an undesired awareness of other people) to become 0.5% and they will move to an affluent part of the country (this ain't one no matter what YOU think!!) which of course benefits us all via trickle down job creation.

Help me, Obi Chick Enobi, you are our only hope!
Captain Chicken
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September 26, 2012
Let's do this. Put the first chickens just outside of MK's yard, then move in the roosters. This will give MK something to live for, which is what we need to do. Let's all support MK and their unhappiness. Will tahnt do it for you, MK? Rooster?
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