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Cobb Family Fights Chicken Ordinance

The Pond Family wants farm-fresh eggs straight from the source: backyard chickens.

Joseph and Elizabeth Pond want their family to get farm-fresh eggs from backyard chickens, and they've started a legal fight that's ruffling feathers.

They don't live on a farm. They live in a Cobb County subdivision.

According to Section 134 of the Cobb County ordinance, you need at least two acres to keep chickens on your property. The Pond family yard is smaller, but that's not stopping Joseph Pond's efforts to change the ordinance.

He already has the Polish chicken, the Rhode Island Reds and the Black Copper Morans as family pets and providers of fresh eggs.

The Ponds' two children, Madeline and Samuel, consider the chickens as pets that provide an important food source: eggs.

The code also says the coop must be 100 feet from the property line. Pond's coop is not, but he says his chickens have not disturbed neighbors.

Pond has filed for a variance. The variance hearing is Wednesday. If he fails, he'll have to hire an attorney if he wants to fight for the birds.

He needs two county commissioners to support changing the ordinance. If he succeeds, it will be brought before the full board for approval in January, which is when the commissioners update the code each year.

Pond’s district commissioner, JoAnn Birrell, has been in touch with him but said she supports the law as it stands, according to the Marietta Daily Journal.

“There’s a reason for the code,” she told the MDJ. “And it’s been there since 1972.”

Northeast Cobb Patch asked Pond if he has had success in his mission. "I would say yes, there is success. We are definitely getting the word out, which is one of our goals. None of the commissioners have pledged support, but I remain optimistic. They know a lot more about backyard chickens now than they did before."

Pond's efforts are nothing to cluck at. He founded The Backyard Chickens Alliance of Cobb County, which is gaining members and supporters daily.

"We spent the first weekend of September at the . We had a great time there, and the patrons really enjoyed our booth. We brought my hens in the Port-A-Coop, as usual, and also brought some baby chicks, baby ducks, bunnies and Guinea pigs. We had a small petting zoo going on," Ponds said.

The Ponds and supporters marched in protest of the ordinance at today's East Cobber parade. They had a booth and petting zoo and educated the public about chickens.

Margaret Thomson September 10, 2011 at 10:34 PM
I still think your neighbors haven't complained to you because they want to be good neighbors, not because they don't object to your chickens. You admit your coop doesn't adhere to code (10' from property line), how many neighbors have a nice view of your coop?
Joan Shore September 10, 2011 at 10:57 PM
I am confused. Does the 2 acre keep people from cockfighting? Does it eliminate the Avian flu? The chickens are NOT illegal, if there was any basis to these comments, they would be. Mr Pond has all hens, which makes a cockfight physically impossible, and the avian flu..the CDC said it all. His neighbors come see the chickens, eat their eggs..Maybe you open your minds :-) Chickens do not bark at all times of the day and night either!
Dr. Mitzi September 10, 2011 at 11:12 PM
I totally agree with Mr. Ponds. As a veterinarian, I've seen my share of amazing pet owners (those with no rats/mice or odor) and pathetic pet owners (those with noise ordinance problems, sanitation problems, disease problems, etc.). Rats, mice, odor and disease are typically the results of neglect, whether you are dealing with dogs, cats, chickens or any other animal. As for Avian Influenza/Bird Flu, Dr. Michael Greger, Director of Public Health and Animal Agriculture of the Humane Society of the United States, states the following: "To reduce the emergence of viruses like H5N1, humanity must shift toward raising poultry in smaller flocks, under less stressful, less crowded, and more hygienic conditions, with outdoor access, no use of human antivirals, and with an end to the practice of breeding for growth or unnatural egg production at the expense of immunity. This would also be expected to reduce rates of increasingly antibiotic-resistant pathogens such as Salmonella, the number-one food-borne killer in the United States. We need to move away from the industry’s fire-fighting approach to infectious disease to a more proactive preventive health approach that makes birds less susceptible—even resilient—to disease in the first place." The 1972 law requiring at least 2 acres to raise chickens, is outdated and reflects a time when more people, than not, had that kind of land. It's time for Cobb to get with the times and for it's citizens to be more informed!
Joseph Pond September 10, 2011 at 11:37 PM
My coop is 10 foot off of the property line. It is the 100' off of the property line that I cannot adhere to because of the size of my lot. My coop cannot be seen from the yard. Two of my neighbors can see over my six foot privacy fence- one of them loves the chickens. The second neighbor, however, thinks that they will lower her property value, another very common misconception about chickens. Ma'am, you are more than welcome to come to my house and see my situation for yourself. Please, go to the website and shoot me an e-mail.
Marilyn Kontrafouris-Eleftheriou RN,MN September 10, 2011 at 11:46 PM
The CDC states at this present time. It may need to do it in the future; therefore, the term present time is used. I believe in code enforcement for dogs too. If you want chickens, move to the country.
Pam J September 10, 2011 at 11:48 PM
I lived in a cluster home community (houses close together). The house next door to me was rented by a Hispanic family who decided they wanted chickens. Since we have 6'-tall privacy fencing, you couldn't see the chickens. But they had one that crowed all day long, starting at 4:00 am. And the smell finally started bothering the close neighbors. I called Cobb County and they said they couldn't do anything about it. Obviously the person I talked to didn't know the law.
Joseph Pond September 11, 2011 at 12:00 AM
Chapter 10 of the Cobb County addresses Animals. Both things that you mentioned are Code Offenses in several places. Code Enforcement would certainly done something about it- The Police would not, nor would Animal Control if I am correct. Also- I do live in the country- The United States of America, where I should have the right to do what I want in my backyard, provided it causes no harm to society! My birds have no ill affects on anyone- I should be able to keep them~ There is no limit to the number of cats or dogs that a person can own in Cobb County, regardless of the size of their lot, but I cannot keep a handful of hens? Please!
Dr. Mitzi September 11, 2011 at 12:10 AM
Sounds like your neighbor had a rooster, which was an inconsiderate decision to own such a pet if you have neighbors that are close by. Roosters crow, hens do not. Many people do not realize that you do NOT need a rooster in order for the hens to lay eggs. You only need a rooster if you want fertile eggs. Also sounds like your neighbors were irresponsible pet owners if their chickens had a smell...chickens do NOT smell...only improperly cared for chickens (ie. their waste is not disposed of properly) will smell. And BTW, 6 chickens will produce far less waste than one dog per day.
Marilyn Kontrafouris-Eleftheriou RN,MN September 11, 2011 at 12:49 AM
Your rights do not supersede the rights of other citizens. You do not have the right to cause a health risk and you do not have the right to cause property values to decrease. Your want to have chickens impinges on the rights of those who do not want chickens in the suburbs or city. Move to a farm in the country my fellow American, where you can have as many chickens as you want.
Joseph Pond September 11, 2011 at 01:00 AM
To each their own and God Bless everybody! If you must make these claims, please provide facts to back them up. You can't. Backyard chickens do not provide a health risk nor decrease property values. Chickens are allowed in Atlanta, Roswell, Alpharetta, Dunwoody, Smyrna, etc. Those cites seem to do be doing just fine. Why not in Cobb County?
Marilyn Kontrafouris-Eleftheriou RN,MN September 11, 2011 at 04:21 AM
Here is a direct statement taken directly from the CDC: There have been several outbreaks of human Salmonella infections resulting from handling baby chicks. See our CDC website: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm4914a1.htm Many of the outbreaks involved young children and most occurred in the spring around Easter. Some outbreaks have been associated with keeping chicks in the classroom. This article talks about salmonella in the GI tract of chickens and their waste.
Citizen September 11, 2011 at 12:52 PM
And so where are your facts? Where is your proof that there is no health risk and that there will NOT be an effect on home values??? You have none, it's just your opinion... Just cause you say your chickens don't smell does not mean that being surrounded by small lots with 10, 20 or 30+ chickens by uncaring owners that there will not be a smell or health risk to an individual or their children. Being surrounded by small lots with 10, 20 or 30+ chickens will most probably have an effect on a homes value. Allowing chickens in small areas will allow for anyone who is intent to raise roosters for cockfighting to do it much easier, blending them into the heard so to speak... It's very obvious where My Pond stands on this, he is ignored local code requirements, used his personal opinions to state that " I should have the right to do what I want in my backyard, provided it causes no harm to society! My birds have no ill affects on anyone" with obvious dis-regard to what everyone around him thinks or how they could be affected. I believe very strongly that the law as it stands should remain and Mr Pond needs to be held accountable for his decision to ignore it.
Vicki Hammond September 11, 2011 at 01:41 PM
I support you and your efforts Mr. Pond...let me know how I can help! Chickens and (other types of barnyard animals) have been in cities since cities began - not having them is the new concept. As for chickens in the Bronx, I can't say, but there are chickens in Brooklyn - http://redhookchickenguy.com/.
Joseph Pond September 11, 2011 at 03:44 PM
Hey, Marge, glad to see you jump in the fray- Mom would be proud of you! The facts are clearly stated in the above comments and at our website, as you well know. I will trust statements from professionals in the Real Estate industry over your thoughts about what "will most probably have an effect on a homes value." I did not "ignore local code requirements"; the county attorney interpreted the State Law differently. I am being held accountable for my actions. If you have a problem with the way that Cobb County is handling this, please notify Code Enforcement. As far as the Salmonella outbreaks, did you read the article that you link to, about research done in 1999? "Although MOST of the 1.4 million human salmonellosis cases that occur annually in the United States are caused by foodborne sources, direct contact with animals, particularly reptiles and OCCASIONALLY birds, also MAY be a source of infection." "Handwashing is critical to prevent Salmonella infections following direct or indirect contact with animals."
Joseph Pond September 11, 2011 at 03:48 PM
Please e-mail your commissioners and let them know that you feel like they need to update the 1972 concerning poultry. Thank you!
Joseph Pond September 11, 2011 at 03:56 PM
Marge- As I stated above, Chapter 10 of the current Cobb County code already makes it a code violation to keep any amount of animals by uncaring owners- the key here uncaring owners. As far as cockfighting, roosters raised for cockfighting are raised in a much different way than roosters kept with laying hens. Cockfighting roosters have to kept alone or they will kill the chickens around them; that is what they are raised to do! As a parallel that you will understand, banning guns do not keep the guns out of criminals' hands.
Citizen September 11, 2011 at 06:57 PM
Perhaps you are suffering with early onset of Avian flu or a strange symptom of salmonella from your chickens cause I'm having a hard time understanding who the heck your talking to in your replies. If it helps you any to keep your comments straight, my name is Bill, I will allow you to use my name if you have anything of consequence to say. The only statement of yours that I wish to comment on at this time is part of the above, "I did not"ignore local code requirements"", again perhaps an early symptom but you have already admitted to doing so: "My coop is 10 foot off of the property line. It is the 100' off of the property line that I cannot adhere to because of the size of my lot." I'm guessing you meant to say not off the property line. Holy cow, this is like having a battle of wits with the witless, just look at what you already stated... I can only hope that the Cobb County commissioners have an opportunity to see these comments, your just not making sense..
Joseph Pond September 11, 2011 at 08:09 PM
Thank you for straightening that out, Marge. I, also, hope that the Commissioners are reading this.
Citizen September 12, 2011 at 01:04 AM
Either your going for the insanity plea with this chicken thing or you have someone that really got under your skin, ex wife perhaps?? Got one of those myself. Strange you would hope the Commissioners are reading your comments, it's clear that you have no regard for the current County codes and that in your opinion the the county attorney is incapable of determining what the law say's. Perhaps for your sake the county attorney also can't interpret the actual punishment for failure to comply with county codes. Good luck and may your insanity plea hold up. Citizen Bill..
Kristin Lanfair Picken September 12, 2011 at 01:49 AM
In light of all the bad things that can happen in this world (note the date on these posts) I think that a family wanting to keep a few chickens and enjoy them is a wonderful thing. I have had an opportunity to meet the Pond family at a recent commission meeting and they are lovely, well educated, responsible folks - and they are passionate about their chickens! Good luck to you, Pond family, I hope you get to keep your chicks on your land. Someday I hope to have a few of my own :)
Citizen September 14, 2011 at 03:55 AM
So Mr Pond, no more comments or responses regarding the great chicken escapades? Was just sitting here wondering how much longer before the hen fate and your fate for ignoring zoning laws is decided. I want to make sure everyone reading this understands my point, it's not the fact that someone wants to keep chickens in their back yard, it's the fact that this one individual decided to ignore the current zoning laws, got busted then went on a grand crusade to have a law changed that is put in place to protect individuals rights not to be surrounded by farm animals. If you want chickens in your back yard, abide with the current laws and be on at least 2 acres so your not disturbing your neighbors. That's not difficult is it? Anyway, I will be checking with interest the minutes of the zoning variance meeting where I do hope the sanity of the commissioners will endure and this issue gets put to bed.
Debra September 14, 2011 at 03:17 PM
Unreal. As a citizen of the USA, Mr. Pond and his family have the RIGHT to have a few chickens. For goodness sake, when did you Mr Bill become so high and mighty that you feel you have the right to 'dictate' who can do what to provide healthy food for their family. It appears to me (yes, in "MY" opinion) that it is you (and ya might ask the 'RN,MN' to join you) that should consider moving... maybe to a 'country' that does NOT advocate FREEDOM! Mr. Pond - I support your efforts to provide pets, food, and education to your children and community.
Marilyn Kontrafouris-Eleftheriou RN,MN September 14, 2011 at 03:49 PM
Freedom? Ok, let's say that I want to raise cock fighting roosters that crow at the most inopportune times, recognizing that there is a STANDING law that prohibits this sought of thing. Do I have a right to do this because I want to raise these foul fowls? Of course not. Mr. Pond has broken the ordinance, which means he has no respect for the law. Why didn't he challenge the law first and then obtain the chickens if the ordinance was ammended? You know the answer to that one. I love the freedom that our country provides for freedom of speech and all the rest. But in a civilized culture, laws need to be respected and challanged lawfully,in order, to maintain civility.
Joan Shore September 14, 2011 at 03:51 PM
If Mr Pond having chickens makes him a criminal, then everyone that applies for a variance that builds their fence too high, builds a building to close to something that the county restricts, hangs a sign where there is not suppose to be one, are all criminals? Really folks just as you have rights, the Pond family does as well, please respect that. Our soldiers fight for OUR RIGHTS, including the ones that give you the right to disrespect people you do not agree with, call them names etc. Please get over yourself!
Marilyn Kontrafouris-Eleftheriou RN,MN September 14, 2011 at 04:03 PM
No one is calling Mr. Pond names but we are calling out his activity. These people do not have a right to lower ther neighbors property values. This code, if ammended, will make it easier for malintents to raise cock fighting chickens. Code enforcement doesn't have the budget for more hires...maybe you want your taxes raised again...i sure don't.
Joan Shore September 14, 2011 at 04:26 PM
Reread the posts, they are calling names, ie criminal etc. But beyond that and to your point, Cock fighting is illegal period, as is dog fighting and the people doing this care NOTHING about it being legal, the amount of land etc. Yes, people dog fight also hard as it may seem, and there is no law/ordinance/restriction on the amount of land you have to have to have a dog or 30. The question here is THE AMOUNT OF LAND, not the chickens, chickens are legal. So the arguements you all present have less than nothing to do with what Mr Pond is trying to accomplish. If avian flu, varmits, etc were a threat of any sort, they would be illegal to own or require special permits etc, like tigers etc. The USDA use to have posters ENCOURAGING people having chickens, look this up!! Stating, it only takes a small piece of property to have a few chickens, every one should have at least one. Then people got upity, they did not HAVE to raise their food, they could BUY IT. It is a sign of WEALTH, like buying your clothes or making them. Please LOOK, RESEARCH, OPEN YOUR MINDS to something outside of tight mindedness. There is a whole WORLD out there!!
Joseph Pond September 16, 2011 at 08:48 AM
Jenny- Chapter 10 of the current code deals with Animals. It spells out clearly what 'nuisanse animals' are and specifically deals with health hazards. If anyone with any animal is not diligent with their animal's care, it is a Code Violation and should be reported as such. Thank you for your clear minded response!
Julie Hodges May 23, 2012 at 08:22 PM
Hey Mr. pond, you tell us the # for Backyard chickens aliance? thank you!
Joseph Pond May 23, 2012 at 08:30 PM
We do not have a phone number, but you can e-mail me thru the website, www.backyardchix.org Thanks!
Megan October 06, 2012 at 09:19 PM
I love the idea of having chickens in the backyard. It's the best way to know where your eggs are coming from and how the chickens are treated. Eggs from the store are more than likely coming from chickens who are kept in nesting boxes their entire life and living in filthy conditions. These eggs can carry disease and the chickens themselves are living an awful life. All animals should be treated with respect. I think it would be great if the law were changed. It would not promote cock fighting. Someone who is interested in cock fighting will do it whether the law is changed or not. Those people are criminals and heartless. They could care less what the law states. People who have smelly coops should be fined (since it's neglectful) but definitely not just for having a coop in general.

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