Roswell planning Chicken Man redux?

A family in Roswell is battling their Homeowners Association and now the Code Enforcement tier of the Roswell Police Department over whether or not they are permitted to own two backyard chickens.

The Willow Springs/Country Club of Roswell couple has retained former FBI agent-now attorney Joseph Rosen to represent them in the matter. The two were told by their Homeowners Association that they were not permitted to house “birds, insects, or reptiles” unless they are solely kept as household pets “not for commercial or benevolent rescue purposes,” per the HOA covenants. The HOA also took exception with the chicken coop in the backyard of the family home.

Rosen has argued that no permits are required in the community for dog houses, playground equipment or even hot tubs, but the HOA has already involved the police in the matter with this family.

Roswell Code Enforcement Officer J. Mahone was contacted to take action on behalf of the HOA. He informed the family, via a courtesy notice, that if their chickens were not removed within 3 days of the notice, a citation would be issued. The citation is accompanied by a fine. City of Roswell ordinances allow citations to be issued on behalf of HOA’s as ‘Planned Residential Divisions,’ however, no code section relating to the prohibition of chickens was listed anywhere on the notice.

The family has named their chickens, Xiao Hua and Xiao Hei, and consider them to be family pets, their attorney said.

Rosen, in a press release, stated:

“The key issues that seem to have the Board concerned is that they have taken the position that under no circumstances can these chickens be considered House pets. That opinion is not supported in any Board covenants, regulations, or statutes. The two chickens are hens and do not constitute a nusisance; there is no smell, noise, and they remain caged at all times. The Board has indicated that amongst their concerns are that the birds could spread Avian Flu or attract coyotes as predators. Neither of these contentions appear have merit. If they did, the Board might generally ban any outdoor cats or dogs as potential coyote bait.”

Until the matter is resolved with the HOA, Rosen has asked the Roswell Police Department to hold off on taking any further action.

The City of Roswell is the same suburban town that wrecked havoc on the life of a man who legally owned chickens inside city limits. Andrew Steven Wordes was targeted by local city officials who harassed him, filed frivolous lawsuits against him, and even had him jailed without cause numerous times over the course of four years. Wordes was sued by the City of Roswell after the City tried to retroactively enact a new ordinance to prohibit him from owning chickens, a practice explicitly prohibited under Georgia law. Wordes won his legal battle with the help of former Governor Roy Barnes, but was harassed by city officials until he took his own life and destroyed his home in March of 2012.

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