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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.

Backyard Chickens Prevail in Cobb

If you live on 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."

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