On March 19 the Roswell Municipal Court Judge Maurice Hilliard will decide whether Andrew Wordes can keep his chickens. Mr. Wordes lives off of Alpharetta Street in one of the city’s oldest neighborhoods. Mr. Wordes is charged with violating the city zoning law by keeping chickens in a residential district.
The citation hinges on a section of the city zoning code that defines permitted uses in residential districts. In estate zoning, “livestock raising, not including poultry and hogs,” is allowable, but not in any other residential zoning.
On its face it would seem that would mean that poultry could be permitted because it isn’t included in the prohibition against livestock.
But according to a legal opinion from the assistant city attorney, poultry is defined by the state as livestock.
He goes on to say that “if one were to read the [Roswell zoning] provision to mean that raising chickens and hogs is permitted in all residential zoning districts, then one must alter the plain meaning of ‘livestock’ to take poultry and hogs out of the general definition. This stands the provision on its head.”
Mayor Jere Wood, an attorney by profession, is on Wordes’ side. “Mr. Wordes keeps pet chickens,” Wood wrote in a memo to council and the city administrator. “If his birds are illegal, then every citizen with a canary, parakeet and other pet bird is violating our zoning code.”
Former Governor Roy Barnes represents Mr. Wordes.
UPDATE: The hearing was delayed until mid-May.