Backyard Chickens Prevail in Cobb

"I would much rather have a couple of chickens in my neighborhood than a couple of my neighbors," Maxine Saless of Marietta said.

If you live on a lot less than two acres in size and you want chickens in your backyard, Cobb County will at least consider your request now.

With Chairman Tim Lee and and District 3 Commissioner JoAnn Birrell opposed, the Board of Commissioners Tuesday night voted 3-2 in favor of a code amendment that allows Cobb residents to apply to the Board of Zoning Appeals for backyard poultry on lots of that size.

The final vote didn't sit well with several East Cobb residents who urged commissioners earlier in the evening to oppose the amendment.

"I know first-hand what backyard chickens can do," Melanie Skinner said. "I had a neighbor who illegally was raising them on ¾ of an acre. When you have poultry in your backyard, it's going to bring the vermin, the vultures, the coyotes into your area. It's not just having chickens in your backyard. It's what the chickens are going to bring in your neighborhood."

The president of the East Cobb Civic Association also spoke out against the amendment. 

"We cannot support the proposed amendment as written," Jill Flamm said. "It does not differentiate as to why backyard chickens are any different than any other types of livestock with respect to food or companionship. It opens the door to yet other forms of livestock or we may face continually opening the code to other amendments."

Flamm and Skinner, however, were in the minority.

Until Tuesday, residents weren't allowed to own any livestock on lots less than two acres. Clad in yellow and red T-shirts and buttons, the majority of the speakers at Tuesday night's meeting said it was time to change that. They said commissioners were wasting their time trying to regulate chickens.

"To me, it's not logical that I can have a neighbor on the left of me who can have 15 dogs or cats or turtles or fish and then my neighbor on the right is only allowed to have one chicken," said Lisa Baer of Acworth. "I read the news a lot and I have yet to hear about a child being mauled to death by a chicken."

Ray Palermo of East Cobb said he knows of neighbors in his subdivision who own boa constrictors, iguanas, monkeys and pit bulls.

"I don't even know why we're here talking about a chicken," he said. "... I moved here 32 years ago when my next door neighbor was a horse and there was horse poop everywhere—including down the side of my house. That was just where I chose to live. This is a lifestyle issue."

Maxine Saless of Marietta drew one of the loudest applauses of the night after she spoke in favor of the code amendment.

"I would much rather have a couple of chickens in my neighborhood than a couple of my neighbors."

Related content

  • Cobb BOC Rejects IMAGE Certification Program
Ron McClellan March 06, 2013 at 01:07 PM
Well Melissa, your first post on this topic clearly put an overall negative connotation to keeping backyard chickens, using your renters situation as an example. I do appreciate your reconsideration. It sounds like you had a valid complaint, it was dealt with in a reasonable fashion, and the offending neighbors straightened things up to everyones satisfaction. This was not adequately covered in the original post. On the contrary, you had said they "NEVER cleaned out the pen" and didn't mention at all that they had "cleaned up their act" so to speak. Bummer for your relatives in Winder. I had tried to help some folks in winder a year or two ago, but they kinda lost the resolve to fight for their right. Invite them to look up "Georgia Chickens" on Facebook. It's a page I started to help folks learn how to fight Municipal Officials who don't understand the concept of "liberty" and are not friendly to the idea of keeping backyard chickens. It is possible to get things changed, even if every official sitting on a commission or council is against the idea.
Greg T March 06, 2013 at 05:32 PM
Hey, move into a neighborhood with an HOA that doesn't allow chickens or other livestock. Problem solved. Why restrict all of Cobb from chickens? Those who want chickens and don't want chickens have the option of being able to live in Cobb either way.
Melinda Paris March 06, 2013 at 08:19 PM
I LIVE in a HOA community, and the rental property as been in my family for over 90 years, and its sets on 1 1/2 acres by it self. The property next door has been there about 10 years, but new people moved in, again I don't care who has chickens/horses/ cows/ now pigs can be a huge STINK, but when it becomes a stinky crap hole like it did last SUMMER, then I have a problem, my renters call and they have a problem, and NO ONE wants to live there, then its a problem. I haven't gone to a meeting, or have not said I didn't want people to have chickens, I just want the people next to my property keep it clean up and stink and fly free! Good Grief, is that too much to ask? I think not.
Ron McClellan March 06, 2013 at 09:15 PM
No it wasn't too much to ask. And it was cleaned up, by your own admission. We got that. But your first post, despite the reality that you've backpedaled a bit, was clearly indicting of Backyard chickens in general, though you have softened your position since the first post. Probably just best to say something like "Ya'll have a point there, I stand corrected," than trying to pretend you've been okay with the concept all along, Melissa.
Rodney Thrash March 06, 2013 at 09:45 PM
Thank you for participating in the discussion. We're going to close the comments on this story. Feel free to comment on other stories on any of the eight Cobb sites.


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »