Cobb voters have made this county a 'red' county for a long time now. The philosophy that makes us a 'red' county calls for smaller government and individual responsibility: According to the GOP website, "Republicans believe individuals, not government, can make the best decisions." This is currently the case concerning pets. According to the operations manager of Cobb Animal Control, "We have no county ordinance pertaining to pet limits. However one must be able to provide adequate care for all pets." Chapter Ten of the County Code defines 'provide adequate care for all pets' and also covers the impacts of pets on the community. It outlines the consequences of not complying as well. This system, based on personal responsibility, is working quite well.
The Zoning Code has its roots in 1972, when Cobb was transitioning from farmland to the cityscape. Two acres lots were the norm, and city folk wanted a psychological and physical separation from the farmers- and they certainly did not want to live next door to livestock and poultry. Such beasts of burden were for common farmers, not upscale city folk! A lot has changed in forty years- a lot hasn't. Poultry have worked their way back into the good graces of a lot of city folk. A lot of people recognize that ducks and chickens, in small numbers, make great pets, with benefits- healthy consumable eggs. Poultry is legal in most all major metropolitan areas- including Buckhead and Atlanta. However, there are still a lot of people here in Cobb that cling to idea that poultry is somehow low class- and only has a place on a farm. They hang on to their prejudices and have a hard time with modern facts.
After nearly two years of community activism, the Board of Commissioners have agreed to look into changing the Zoning Laws that ban poultry from 97% of the property in Cobb. The Planning Commission has done their research and came up with a game plan, which on the surface, looks like a great solution: The Special Land Use Permit. However, the devil, as they say, is in the details. If a parent wanted to get their child a duck for Easter, or a Cancer survivor wanted to get a few hens because her doctor told them that the fresh eggs would be better for them, they would have to do the following:
- file an application for a Permit at least two months in advance
- include a $1,000 application fee- which is non refundable if the permit is denied
- include a $300 refundable deposit for County signs that have to be posted on their property, and cost $9 each
- include a current plot plan and boundary survey stamped by a registered engineer, architect, land planner or land surveyor
- attend the Zoning Hearing
- send a first class letter to all property owners within a 1,000 foot radius
After all of this, your application will be subject to the normal fifteen special land use considerations, and an addition four considerations, just for animals- including the number of animals, the size and architectural style of the coop, and buffering or screening measures for adjacent properties.
So, I am responsible enough to pick up a dozen Pit Bulls on my way home, but I need the County to determine whether I can have a baby chick? I can build dog houses and tools sheds under 120 square feet on my own, but need the County to review a chicken coop? My 300 pound hairy neighbor can sunbath in a Speedo next door without any screening or buffering, but the County would consider it if I want a pet duck?
Article Four, Section Two, Paragraph One of the GA Constitution states, "The governing authority of each county shall have legislative power to adopt clearly reasonable ordinances, resolutions, or regulations relating to its property, affairs, and local government..." I ask you, is this a clearly reasonable ordinance, or does it fly in the face of our State Constitution?
The solution is clear- allow poultry on properties less than two acres and let the current animal control laws dutifully govern them as the laws are doing for any other pets. Leave the livestock on the farms. Let the individuals, not the government, make the best decisions. If they prove themselves incapable, let the current laws deal with them accordingly.