Board denies chicken advocate’s request to keep hens on property
by Jon Gillooly
May 09, 2013 12:00 AM | 6938 views | 22 22 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Joseph Pond
Joseph Pond
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The Cobb Board of Zoning Appeals has unanimously denied chicken advocate Joseph Pond’s request to keep four hens on his east Cobb property.

Wednesday was the first chance for the board to test out a new poultry ordinance recently adopted by the Cobb Board of Commissioners, which provides a pathway for residents who live on fewer than 2 acres but who want to have hens.

Speaking against Pond’s request for hens were Jill Flamm, president of the East Cobb Civic Association, Vince Parkhouse, president of the Marlanta III Homeowner’s Association; and Beth Jones, who lives in the Marlanta neighborhood.

Jones said her parents have chickens on their 72-acre farm.

“I can tell you having gone up there and fed them and cared for them, that they are very nasty smelling, noisy critters,” Jones said.

Jones said chickens don’t eat all the feed that’s put out for them.

“They peck at it and leave little bits of it everywhere, and those little bits that are left could attract vermin to the area,” she said.

Commissioner JoAnn Birrell’s appointment to the appeals board, David Poteet, made the recommendation to deny Pond’s request, referencing an April 29 email from Robyn Funderburg, who lives across the street from Pond. In that email, Funderburg writes that she has reported Pond to the county in the past over having chickens.

“We are looking to put our house on the market next spring, and I am worried that if his variance is approved, we will have issues selling our home,” Funderburg wrote. “We have enough issues with several of the other neighbors (a lot of renters, not taking care of their property or house, etc.) that is going to make it hard to get a buyer. I really don’t want and or need any more additional issues with selling our home.”

Poteet also referenced the new code.

“I’ve got the code right here, and if I read it correctly and after talking to (the county attorney) we have to heavily consider people in the direct area as well as in particular adjacent property owners,” Poteet said.

Pond expressed his disappointment after the meeting.

“I don’t think that they followed the intent of the law or even the letter of the law,” Pond said, noting his course of action is either to live with the decision and reapply at a later date or appeal to the Cobb Superior Court.

Another request approved

Rob Hosack, the county’s community development director, told the MDJ after the meeting that the new code does not require all adjacent property owners to sign off on someone who wants hens. It’s simply one item the board is asked to take into consideration.

Pond blamed the East Cobb Civic Association for killing his request.

“I think there’s no question that Jill Flamm rallied the other homeowner associations as she stated to come out and defeat this,” Pond said. “I think it’s a crying shame that they consider themselves the protectors of Cobb County.”

While it denied Pond’s request, the board approved a request for two hens by Jeremy Rzentkowski, who lives south of Mableton Parkway near the Chattahoochee River.

No one spoke in opposition to Rzentkowski’s request.

Commissioner Bob Ott’s appointment to the board, Kim Swanson, raised a concern over the chicken coop the two birds would be caged in, asking what he planned to do with the ground as he moved the cage from soiled to fresh grass.

“I guess I could hose that off. It is a natural fertilizer,” Rzentkowski said.

Responded Swanson: “I’m just concerned especially with regards to the feathers, if you could just clean up that area so that your backyard does not become an entire area of the chicken feathers and the other debris that they leave behind.”

Commissioner Lisa Cupid’s board appointment, Murray Homan, made the recommendation to approve a variance for the two hens with a few caveats. Rzentkowski may not sell the birds or the eggs, although he could give them away, Homan said.

And the coop had to be within 10 feet of the back of his house. The variance would also last one year, at which time the board would review it again.

“You will be allowed to keep two ducks on this property,” Homan told him, correcting himself to say “chickens.”

The board’s approval is simply a recommendation. The code now requires the full Board of Commissioners to vote on it before Rzentkowski gets to have the two hens.

 

Comments
(22)
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Lib in Cobb
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May 10, 2013
I learned from Mr. Pond, HOA covenants supercede Cobb county laws/codes. I have had a running disagreement with my HOA board for years regarding the enforcement of the HOA covenants. This HOA board and previous HOA boards in this sub-division are very reluctant to enforce the property condition covenants. I have been informed by the board that the farm animal covenants will be enforced.
Col. Kurtz
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May 11, 2013
I do not believe for a New York minute that HOA covenants supercede Cobb County laws/codes.

Similarly , I did not believe the Moose Lodge Officer who told me federal, state, and local laws were superceded by Moose Lodge Rules and Regulations within the lodge and on lodge property ...I laughed in his face!
Col. Kurtz
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May 09, 2013
I say burn the chickens at the stake ...!
And So,,,
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May 09, 2013
The cluster-cluck continues...
And the lesson is..
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May 09, 2013
Mr Pond should have put his $1000 toward a house in a less undesirable area than East Cobb.

If you want your own life, you don't live among the HOA-AHs because A: these housewives have nothing to do (despite their proclamations when hubby gets home and NOTHING has been done all day), and B: they will want you to be just like them.

anonymous
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May 09, 2013
Know your facts before you start accusing people of being only housewives who have nothing to do!!!
Re- anonymous
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May 09, 2013
Uhhh what facts and what accusation? All I said was that HOA-AH's are bored housewives. There would need to be specific people in order for there to be facts or accusations. That said, you seems rather defensive and paranoid. Are the chickens out to get you and ruin the life you thought you would have prior to realizing life is not entirely within your personal sphere of control? Those gosh darn chickens!
anonymous
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May 09, 2013
I post that I will pay Pond $10,000 to ride off into the sunset. He is causing taxpayers ten times this as a conservative estimate.
EastCobbFormerNeigh
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May 09, 2013
Maybe the local govt should just live and let live and incur zero costs to the taxpayers other than those incurred to pay animal control for the few times they have to go after irresponsible chicken owners - those who let their chickens wander at large. Really, current animal-at-large and nuisance/noise ordinances are already in place; why not let these cover any potential problems? Let people keep a few flippin' chickens if they want, for crying out loud!
anonymous
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May 09, 2013
Seems like an awful lot to spend to keep a man from having a couple of chickens.
Prop Rights aint R
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May 09, 2013
The Right does not believe in property rights. They do, however, believe in Big Government. Who would have thought the Republicans would turn into the party of Big Government, but we have yet another case of it right here in Cobb County with a bunch of bologna over chikens. What's next, will D.A. King inspect the chicken applicants for possible Communist persuasion?
Joseph Pond
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May 09, 2013
We will find out what the Ethics Charges are costing. I have requested that information since the Commissioner has used that charge to draw attention from the fact that she broke the law. This BZA Hearing did not cost the taxpayers because of me- I paid my application fee up front. Thank you for the offer- but I am not leaving anytime soon.
Chicken lover
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May 10, 2013
You my dear Anonymous are costing tax payers the same thing...all to preserve the chicken-less bubble you wish to live in. Quit being so offended.
anonymous
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May 09, 2013
I am so confused by this. I thought owning chickens won in Cobb County as long as certain ordinances are met. Did it not? Or is this another Pond article to continue his five minutes of fame in a small town in Georgia? I think it is, and I think this man has an overblown ego where he continuously seeks his five minutes in the Marietta Daily Journal and thrives on it. Who is paying for this? You want chickens, go live in the outbacks. I have lived around chickens. They smell. They are messy. They poop a ton and if you don't clean up the poop three times daily, you don't clean up the mess; well, you arguers pro-chickens, let me tell you this. You can't train a chicken to use a litter box or to go for a walk before pooping. They poop smelly white poop all day long at will. And in all seriousness, this is not in any form or fashion about saving money. Please don't humor me with that argument. It costs far more to raise a dozen chickens for eggs or to eat them than it does to buy the same eggs or chicken meat at an organic prices from chicken farms. Maybe that is what the problem is. I can't imagine looking at my neighbor's chickens 10 feet away knowing they will become Sunday's supper when the are fattened up enough.
EastCobbFormerNeigh
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May 09, 2013
I am pretty sure these chickens are wanted as pets, not to kill and eat! Dogs produce more poop than chickens, and smellier, too. Plus, it would be confined to a backyard. Which infringes on somebody else's property rights more: a guy keeping a small group of hens confined in his fenced backyard, or a guy walking his dog along other people's yards to poop??

Chickens smell no worse than dogs. Guess we should outlaw dogs.
Joseph Pond
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May 09, 2013
In February, the BOC gave the BZA the power to grant Variances for hens on less than two acres in Cobb County with certain criteria- one being that the BZA should consider the opinion of the adjacent neighbors. I applied for a Variance to keep four hens on my half acre. The Variance process takes three to four months to process. The BZA denied my Variance request because one (out of four) adjacent neighbor (across the street) did not want me to own them, and because the ECCA lobbied against it.

People do not raise Backyard Chickens to eat- they raised them as pets and as a source of fresh eggs. Many people want to teach their children the cycle of life, and where their food comes from. Regardless, it should not matter what I do in my backyard provided that I am not infringing on your rights. Today, it is chickens. What about tomorrow, when your neighbors or the HOAs around your neighborhood decide they do not like what YOU are doing in your backyard? Will you be as dismissive then?
anonymous
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May 11, 2013
Pond: Who is going to police people to make sure they do not eat their chickens? You knew when you moved where you moved that the law does not allow you to house chickens. Yes, change in society is good with some things, but you are making a mockery of the system. Owning a half acre of land is not a lot of land to be able in suburbia to own farm animals. I hope you don't go anywhere. I hope you stay right here and realize that you don't own this county and as the song says, "You can't always get what you want." No matter how many people you sue trying.

SOOOO Wrong
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May 11, 2013
The logic from Mr. Joe in his own words without correction that, "People do not raise Backyard Chickens to eat- they raised them as pets and as a source of fresh eggs. Many people want to teach their children the cycle of life, and where their food comes from." Well, Mr. Joe, how do you explain to children that eggs come from the chickens like the ones you own or the ones next door; then what do you tell them about where their other chicken food comes from, i.e., chicken nuggets? We, as a society, allow 'pets' to be animals on small plots of land that we don't eat here such as dogs and cats. If you are continuing your expensive fight to teach children, then what do you teach them that the chicken you ate for dinner is different from the one you have in your backyard? We must not discriminate against chickens. If one is saved from the death penalty, all should be saved or you are showing favoritism toward your own personal chickens. Now, when it becomes accepted in Cobb County to eat dogs and cats just as long as you buy them at the grocery store and they are not your pet, then you can reasonably make a comparison of chickens with dogs and cats.
anonymous
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May 08, 2013
I have always wanted to own (1) a goat; (2) a pig; and (3) a cow. Maybe Pond opened the door for me to own the three in my postage stamp sized yard in the hood. Hey, goat noises; pig oinks; and cow moos can't be any worse than cockle-doodle-doos at the crack of dawn. Naw. I am smarter than that. I knew when I bought what I bought that I needed to buy somewhere else if I wanted farm animals. I applaud Pond for his tenacity though. But perhaps that tenacity would be better used to stamp out animal abuse or sheltering the hundreds of homeless pets Cobb County sees every year. Hey, Pond, how 'bout you adopting five dogs and five cats that would otherwise be euthanized and persuade your followers to do so also? We could stamp out homeless pets in Cobb County and be an example to the entire nation. Think about it, dude. Seriously think about that.
J.V.
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May 09, 2013
Pig is a little different unless it's one of those little ornamental (lol) pigs. But actually I'm the sort of neighbor that would not bat an eye if wanted to keep a goat OR one milking cow in your back yard. Provided I could feed the cow my corn shucks (in-turn shared the fertilizer) or you invited me over when the goat got barbecued. You can check with my neighbor. Told them just that when they moved in. Might even try to borrow the goat to eat down my backyard a little with all the rain we have been having lately.
G D M
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May 08, 2013
Wow. After all the trouble getting this idiotic code changed, they go off and deny the first variance application. I am sure there is more to the story, but I just see this as "revenge" for his ongoing battles with JoAnn Birrell. I think Joe Pond should run for commissioner!
Approved
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May 09, 2013
The first variance case for chickens was approved before the one turned down. Check your facts.
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