I'm posting on behalf of Mrs. Julee Smilley, who is working to get the city ordinance of Peachtree City, Georgia amended to allow backyard chickens. I offered to help her get more visibility for the cause on the web, so here I am! Here is the text of the information packet she supplied to petition-signers in PTC (spoiler-tagged for length reasons): Chicks for Safe Food Issue: Peachtree City doesn’t allow backyard chickens. Answer: The City should amend the zoning ordinances to allow residents to own 3-5 backyard chickens. Allowing residents to keep backyard chickens will: 1. Allow residents to enjoy healthier and safer eggs, time with family caring for chickens, and the fascination of chicken-keeping, 2. Increase educational opportunities for children and adults, 3. Enhance the perception of Peachtree City as an exciting, interesting and inviting community, and 4. Provide revenue for the City in the form of permit fees. Importantly, chickens will not: 1. Increase offensive smells and noise in neighborhoods, 2. Attract bugs and rodents, or 3. Cost Peachtree City more money to enforce the new ordinance. The initial concept of Peachtree City was in keeping with the people’s desires to reside in a high-quality community that offered exceptional educational opportunities and safety. Peachtree City’s residents have also always valued good health. The Recycling Center, the golf cart paths, the Community Garden and Farmer’s Market all make Peachtree City progressive. My family and I have lived here for 20 years, and have loved seeing our community embrace all of these improvements. As the city has progressed, one of the things we have come to value is our local farmers and gardeners because we now know that fresh food, locally grown, is not only healthier and better for us . . . it is safer. Too often these days, we see food recalls and food safety concerns from big farms that overcrowd animals and mass produce our food. We avoid that with our household gardens and can increase our safety by allowing residents to own a small number of backyard chickens. The success of our Farmer’s Market and Community Garden are proof that the citizens of Peachtree City have become more educated and concerned about food safety and the value of locally grown and produced food. Peachtree City has seen an increase in residents who are willing to invest the extra effort and money it takes to tend a vegetable garden or visit our Farmer’s Market. Our residents would do the same with chickens. That’s why it doesn’t make sense that Peachtree City residents can’t own a small number of backyard chickens. Many residents see the added value of amending our zoning to allow residents to keep backyard chickens. The nutritional quality of eggs from a backyard hen far surpasses what you can buy in the stores. The February/Mark 2009 issue of Mother Earth News magazine detailed how USDA testing shows that backyard hen’s eggs have less cholesterol and fat and more vitamin A and E, beta carotene and omega-3 fatty acids than eggs from large poultry farms. Eggs from backyard hens also have a better flavor and last longer than store-bought eggs. So, we your constituents need you to change the ordinance so that we can have access to healthier and safer eggs. Moreover, allowing residents to keep a few backyard hens would enhance the lives of Peachtree City residents and the perception of Peachtree City as a progressive community that is in step with the times in which we live. Debunking the Common Myths About Keeping Backyard Chickens 1) Smell – “Even just one or two chickens smell bad.” In reality, too many of any animal, including humans, in a confined space cause offensive smells. Overcrowded poultry farms are what we think of when we think of chickens and the unpleasant smell caused by those overcrowded conditions. However, three or four hens with fresh water, food and shelter do not generate unpleasant smells. In addition, we pick up (or should pick up) the waste of all our pets, and it’s the same with chickens. But, chicken waste is actually helpful! Composting authorities tell us that we should not put dog or cat waste in our compost piles. However, chicken waste is a great addition to compost and actually adds to soil fertility. 2) Noise – “Chickens make bothersome noises.” Other pets that are allowed in Peachtree City are much noisier than hens. The noise made by a few hens is minimal. Hens make a chortling sound which sounds like a morning dove when they “talk to” each other. Some hens will make noise when laying an egg or when they sense danger. The squawk a hen makes is much like a crow. Dogs are much noisier than a hen, and unlike a dog, there is absolutely no risk of a violent attack from a hen. 3) Bugs/Rodents – “Chickens attract undesirable bugs and rodents.” Rather than attract bugs, chickens can help keep them under control. Hens love to eat bugs because they’re an important source of protein. If you’ve ever had a Japanese beetle problem, get a couple of hens. They eat all the beetles as well as their larva. With respect to rodents, a more likely source of them in our neighborhoods is wild bird feeders. When we fill our bird feeders to attract wild birds, seeds are spilled by us and the birds feeding on those seeds. Those spilled seeds are what attract rodents. But, chickens love to eat seeds and can help clean-up the spilled seeds and keep the rodents under control. Added Benefits Enforcement: Hens are just like any other pet and would not require any additional enforcement by Peachtree City Code Enforcement. Increased Revenue for Peachtree City: Peachtree City can and should charge a $50 fee for a permit to keep 3 to 5 hens. The permits could be a paperless permit, i.e., simply require registration with the city and payment of the $50 fee, which cuts down on printing cost. Public Perception of Peachtree City: We always seem to be looking for ways to improve public perception of Peachtree City. We get emails from the city asking us to vote for various lists that rank our city as the “most progressive” in one area or another. Allowing backyard hens would secure Peachtree City a spot as one of the most eco-friendly, healthy places to raise a family. We’re currently behind the curve. Attached are brief outlines of zoning ordinances allowing backyard chickens that other municipalities in the area of the same size and demographic as Peachtree City have already passed. Educational Our children would benefit from learning about the source of our food and why it’s important to properly care for animals. Larry Dove of Two Doves Farms has taught classes in our schools that educate children on how to plant, harvest and prepare vegetables for consumption. Allowing residents to keep a few hens would help our children understand and appreciate the cycle of life involved in safe food production. The last generation with significant poultry-keeping experience in America is the World War II generation. Americans have always valued self-sufficiency. This historically American trait is growing increasingly sparse with each passing day. Future generations, including my grandchildren, need to know how to feed themselves, be able to experience the satisfaction of providing food for themselves and their families, and learn to value America’s past traditions and practices. For additional ways chickens can educate our community and add value to our living experience, see the attached August/September, 2012 Southern Living article. Conclusion Peachtree City should amend the code ordinance to allow our families to maintain 3-5 hens for egg production, insect control and compost amendment. Below is a proposed amended ordinance: Sec. 1001. R-10, R-12, R-15 and R-22 one family residential districts. (1001.2) Delete (f) “poultry” Add: 1. Chickens may be kept only as provided in this section and may not be kept as household pets. 2. It shall be unlawful for any person to keep any chicken in a manner contrary to the provisions of this section. (Violation of any provision of the section may result in immediate removal of any or all chickens). Any such violation shall be a class B misdemeanor. 3. Chickens may be kept strictly for familial gain from egg production. No sale or income shall result from the keeping of chickens. 4. No roosters are allowed. 5. Up to five chickens may be kept on residential lots. 6. Chickens may not be kept or allowed to roam within the living quarters of a residential dwelling. 7. All enclosures, pens, coops and run areas shall be maintained in good condition at all times so as to be rodent proof from all sides, including burrowing. 8. Manure shall be removed from the pens, coop and run areas at least weekly and as often as necessary to prevent insect breeding, vermin attraction, offensive odor or any other nuisance; and removed waste must either be tilled into the ground or compost bin. 9. All enclosures, pens, coops and run areas shall be kept and maintained in a clean and sanitary condition. 10. All enclosures, pens, coops and run areas shall be located in the rear yard of the main dwelling or in the interior side yard provided all of the requirements of the section are met. Enclosures, pens coops and run areas shall not be located in the corner side yard. The yard shall be completely fenced using site-obscuring fencing or vegetative screening so as to prevent sight of such areas from the street or golf cart paths. 11. Clean water shall be available to the chickens at all times. 12. All enclosures, pens, coops and run areas shall be located at least 30 feet from the nearest primary structure or habitable dwelling on adjoining properties, at least 15 feet from the property line and at least 10 feet from the house and garage of the applicant. 13. Dead birds and unused eggs shall be removed within 24 hours or less and shall be properly discarded. Slaughtering chickens for consumption or otherwise in residential zones is prohibited. 14. Chickens may not be permitted to roam freely onto adjoining property. 15. To keep chickens, a coop and run area are required. The coop shall be constructed such that it provides adequate shelter and space for chickens to roost with at least two square feet provided per chicken. If chickens are not allowed to roam within an enclosed area outside the coop (a run), the coop shall have a minimum floor area of six square feet per chicken. 16. The total footprint of the coop and run area combined shall not exceed 50 square feet. The maximum height of any enclosure, pen, coop or run shall not exceed 6 feet. 17. Coops shall be constructed with a solid roof and shall be secured to prevent intrusion, including by burrowing animals. 18. No coop shall be visible from the street or golf cart paths. 19. Residents who are members of a home owner association shall first obtain permission from the home owner association to which they belong before applying for a permit. Permit Any person who desires to keep chickens as authorized by this section shall make application to the Peachtree City Code Enforcement for a permit and pay a $50.00 permit fee. The permit shall include the name of the person desiring the permit and address where the chickens will reside. Payment and of the $50 fee and registration can be by on-line payment or by check made payable to Peachtree City. If any PTC citizens would like to aid in this effort, or have any comments or suggestions, please reply here or PM me and I will put you in contact with Mrs. Smilley. I will also relay any messages I receive on her progress to you here. From what I know now, she is going to speak to the PTC Garden Club this weekend, and she is working to arrange meetings with city council members. Thanks for listening!