In February, Rep. Earl Ehrhart (R-Powder Springs) introduced the Right to Grow Act to the Georgia General Assembly. The bill, which , chickens and honeybees for personal consumption, sailed through the House Agriculture Committee, only to be killed by the Rules Committee after very aggressive lobbying by the cities and counties.
They felt that it violated home rule granted to them by the Georgia Constitution and grumbled about potential lawsuits. They said the cities and counties are better able to legislate their areas without state intervention.
If that is the case, who looks out for the people when their local governments lose touch with what is important to them? Who is there when local governments violate the private property rights of its citizens for aesthetic reasons?
The Georgia Constitution says: “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 for which no provision has been made by general law and which is not inconsistent with this Constitution or any local law applicable thereto.”
In Cobb County, zoning ordinances prevent 97 percent of its citizens from owning chickens. They can have 25 Great Danes on their property of any size, but not one hen unless they have 2 acres. With the general population's move toward a more sustainable lifestyle, this is not “reasonable,” nor is it consistent with the constitutional rights granted to the people in Article 1, Section 1, Paragraph 1, “No person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property except by due process of law.”
And it is not just the county; it is the cities as well.
For an animal that requires only 4 square feet of space, according to the Georgia Department of Agriculture, Kennesaw has the same 2-acre requirement as the county. It gets more unreasonable from there. Austell requires 2½ acres. Acworth requires 3 acres. Marietta requires 5 acres. The city of Powder Springs says you may not own chickens on residential property at all, regardless of its size.
One hundred years ago, Uncle Sam said it was your patriotic duty to raise backyard chickens. He said you should have two chickens for every member of the household. He said that it is so easy to take care of them, the children can do it. The chickens eat bugs and table scraps and provide you with fresh, wholesome food.
Today's elected officials need to wake up and smell the fresh eggs cooking. Today’s generation wants to raise its own food. People want their property rights back.
The is holding a petition drive to assemble signatures that can be taken to these elected officials. You can find more information at backyardchix.org.
The writer has in his East Cobb backyard.