Holding her toddler in her arms, Summer Brown told the commission she wants to keep chickens in her home’s .39-acre yard to teach her four children — ranging in age from almost 2 years old to 11— responsibility and to educate them about where their food comes from.
“I grew up around chickens, and I would like to give that to my children as well,” Brown said, calling chicken “great pets.”
The board approved Brown’s request by a 3-2 vote with Chairman Tim Lee and Commissioner JoAnn Birrell, who represents part of east Cobb, opposing.
Lee and Birrell also opposed revising the county’s chicken ordinance in February.
A group of residents led the charge to make the ordinance friendlier to homeowners living on smaller lots after Joseph Pond of east Cobb was told he had to get rid of his hens.
The previous ordinance only allowed chickens on a lot at least two acres. Now, residents living on less land can pay $150 to apply for a zoning variance with the county’s Board of Zoning Appeals to be considered on a case-by-case basis.
One hen will be considered for every 5,000 square feet of land. That could give a resident on a half-acre lot the ability, if approved, to keep four hens.
Lee, who says the county’s previous ordinance was adequate, doesn’t want to see hens taking over yards in residential areas where neighbors live close to one another.
Birrell echoed his statements.
“I still feel the two-acre minimum is appropriate,” she said.
The first variance was approved in June for a family near Austell.
Keeping chickens teaches responsibility, Brown said, because the animals must be fed, given water, and eggs must be collected.
Remembering a small child she once babysat who believed that chocolate milk came from brown cows, Brown told commissioners she wants her children to know how the food they eat gets to their dinner table.
“I hope to be able to connect my children more with their food sources,” Brown said.
She compared it to having a backyard garden.
“I also believe that having chickens is important for us in becoming more self-sufficient,” Brown said.
She plans to keep chickens in her yard in a moveable pen, called a chicken tractor, to allow the animals fresh grass to eat.
“I think that this is a very manageable situation for chickens in a small backyard setting,” Brown said.