Metro Atlanta Laws Challenged by a Backyard Chicken Keeper

The national backyard chicken debate continues in Metro Atlanta. On June 29th, Marietta resident, Joseph Pond, was cited by Cobb County Code Enforcement for keeping chickens on his property, which is less than the required two acres as stated in the Official Code of Cobb County. The Marietta Daily Journal reported that as a result of the citation, Pond is moving to rally supporters to change the zoning laws in favor of keeping chickens in typical suburban backyards. As noted on his new website, Backyard Chickens Alliance of Cobb County, one of Pond’s main contentions with the zoning laws is that chickens are placed in the same category as livestock, such as cows and horses. His website also provides details about the backyard chicken movement including the benefits of keeping chickens, events for supporters, interpretations of laws, and a petition to change county code. One can easily get entangled in chicken law, so websites like The City Chicken helps people navigate the legality of keeping chickens all over North America.

Also in June, the Savannah Morning News reported that Chatham County resident and Food Network star, Paula Deen, as being in a similar situation wherein the county cited her for keeping chickens on her property. You can even meet Deen’s rescue hens on a page of her website called “Paula’s Chickens”. Incidentally, National Geographic’s August edition features “Homes for Hens”, a photography piece on rescue chickens in London. Although not for chickens, I have also had citations left on my door by code enforcement concerning complaints from an anonymous neighbor. These citations included relevant violations, but part of the complaints included our kids’ fort and rain barrels – both not violations. I can certainly empathize with people who are being singled out for things other than the usual weeds and inoperable vehicles in their yard.

To take a peek at real backyard chicken keepers in the Decatur area, watch “Chicks in the City”, a PBS segment on “This Atlanta with Alicia Steele”. In contrast to Cobb County Code, Decatur’s Code differentiates livestock from small domestic animals. It is interesting to observe how Decatur Code allows people to raise chickens in these urban backyards, yet Cobb County Code prohibits backyard chickens in yards that are similar or even larger in size. Despite regulations, having informed, friendly and tolerant neighbors seems to be the key to avoiding run-ins with local authorities.

Georgia Organics and The Oakhurst Community Garden Project are sponsors of the 4th Annual Urban Coop Tour on September 24th and 25th. This gives people the opportunity to learn how to raise backyard chickens properly. Whether chickens are kept as pets, sources of food, or both, there are plenty of resources and forums for backyard chicken keepers. Pond is part of the quiet movement that is steering our society closer to our food sources, closer to healthier bodies, and closer to living an environmentally sustainable lifestyle.

Backyard Chickens to be Allowed in Chatham County
Nosh Fest

Update on Backyard Chickens in Metro Atlanta
Check the Backyard Chickens Alliance of Cobb County website for more updates. Join them at the East Cobber Parade and Festival on September 10th.

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