The Roswell Chicken Man and His Fight For His Constitutionally Protected Rights
Mr. Wordes earned his name “the Roswell Chicken Man” just how you might expect he would. He owns chickens (and turkeys). But what you probably wouldn’t expect is the hassle, hardship and heartbreak he has encountered in order to maintain his right to have these animals and his property.
Mr Wordes is currently battling the City of Roswell (City Manager and City Council) over his right to have livestock on his property inside city limits. The order of events goes a little bit like this:
- December 2008: Roswell Zoning Department issues a warning for the chickens on his property. (At that time, the City of Roswell’s Code of Ordinances said “On less than two acres you MAY NOT have livestock except for poultry and swine.”) The City decided to issue a citation anyway. Mayor Wood attempts to step in and stop the city, but the city moves forward. Both parties head to court.
- Spring 2009: Mr. Wordes hires former Georgia Governor Roy Barnes to represent him against the city. Both parties presented their cases to Judge Maurice Hilliard who issued a dismissal of the case against the Chicken Man.
- Summer 2009: The Roswell City Council rewrites the law, without a ‘grandfather clause’, to make all but 6 chickens on a property illegal–directly targeting and affecting Mr. Wordes. The law further states that the ‘legal’ chickens must remain in a permanent enclosure.**
(**Mr. Wordes property sits on a flood plain. 3-4 feet of water rises on his property when it storms. Because of this, the city would not issue a permit for a permanent enclosure, therefore making it ‘illegal’ for him to have his birds. This is important because after the storms and flooding in September 2009, a sewer backed up behind Mr. Wordes’ home causing 6 feet of water in the back yard and 4 feet of water in the basement of his home. In order to save his home AND his chickens, Mr. Wordes borrowed a BobCat to move the dirt around. He was subsequently issued citations for too many chickens, illegal grading of property and too many cars on his property. The City also would not submit requests for FEMA funds for the property. The property has flooded several times since this initial flood.)
- The City of Roswell contacts Mr. Wordes mortgage broker, an elderly woman who has held his mortgage for the entirety of his 16 years in his home. With the threat of liens, citations and grievances, the City pressures Wordes’ mortgage broker into SELLING the note to another broker for 50 cents on the dollar. The current mortgage broker is attempting to foreclose on Mr. Wordes home.
- Mr. Wordes reports to court for his citations during the flood. Judge Hilliard again rules in his favor stating that he is ‘grandfathered in’ to the new law, but must complete 180 hours of community service for the illegal grading and the excessive number of cars on his property.
- Mr. Wordes is harassed by the Roswell Police Department as well. He is pulled over more times than we can count, thrown in jail on multiple occasions, and given a number of petty citations. It’s common for multiple police cars to sit at the end of Mr. Wordes street and ‘wait’.
- The City of Roswell files a 55-page civil suit against Mr. Wordes in an attempt to take his property from him. This is the first civil suit to attempt to take a man’s property in the history of Roswell. A civil suit was filed in attempt to deny Mr. Wordes his right to a public defender, as he can no longer afford to pay for representation. Fortunately because of Mr. Wordes involvement with Georgia Carry, they have provided legal representation for him.
- The City lists Mr. Wordes home on the ‘Roswell 2030 Plan’ as a green space and parks area, publicly announcing and solidifying their effort to take his property. (View the plan here http://www.roswellgov.com/DocumentView.aspx?DID=1552 –the road you’re looking for is Alpine Drive. Can you believe this? He is still the lawful owner of his property but the City has a 20-year-plan to dissolve that. Note that Mr. Wordes has offered to SELL his property to the City, but they have declined. Instead, they want to take the long and painful foreclosure route.)
- July 2011: Mr. Wordes leaves his home to attend a political rally. When he returns home, he finds that all of his chickens have been let out and feed is all over the ground. The next day, his birds begin to die. Mr. Wordes realizes that someone has poisoned his birds. Over the course of the next few days, Mr. Wordes loses 1/3 of his livestock, including 45 baby turkeys (10 of which belonged to Mayor Jere Wood), 25 chicks and 6 adult birds. I spoke with Mr. Wordes personally and he claims there is no doubt in his mind who was behind the poisoning. He alleges that it was his next door neighbor who has rallied with the city through this entire process. You see, Mr. Wordes has a very private backyard that is surrounded by woods. From the street, however, it would appear that people were home because there were a couple of cars parked in the driveway. Unfortunately, Mr. Wordes posted on his Facebook page that he would be attending this political rally. Mr. Wordes has indications that lead him to believe that his neighbor monitors the page through other names (via his neighbors own personal website that has a page dedicated to ‘The Chicken Man’). Mr. Wordes alleges that this neighbor is the only one that would 1) know the seclusion of the property, 2) have access to the property in addition to knowing where everything is and 3) have a motive to commit such an atrocity. A police report has been filed, but is not moving forward at this point due to the lack of proof. The birds were taken to two different forensic labs to determine the source of poisoning but the necropsies have not yet returned. In the meantime, this has become an economic hardship on Mr. Wordes since he cannot sell the eggs from his hens since the poisoning.
- Mr. Wordes is due in court August 10 at 2:30pm. The hearing is public at the Roswell Municipal Court. He will be arguing a probation violation for missing a ‘check-in’ over the time his birds had been poisoned.
Currently, Mayor Jere Wood, Councilwoman Betty Price and Senator John Albers are all standing behind this brave man. These public servants have exhausted their resources, but remain vigilant with their personal support. All three should be commended for their continued support for Mr. Wordes.
The Roswell chicken man needs your help.
- If you are a resident of Roswell, I encourage you to call your councilman or woman. Let them know what they are doing is WRONG. A few of these council people are up for election this November (Becky Wynn and Rich Dippolito). How about vote them out? Why would you want someone who denies us of our rights granted by the laws of government? You can also call or email them and let them know how shameful their actions are. Nothing will change if we all stay quiet.
- Call the news stations, local and national. These villains need to be exposed. The city cannot get away with this. We must stop fearing the government and stand behind those who are fighting the good fight.
-Huffington Post email@example.com
-Fox News firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
-WSBTV email@example.com or 404.897.6276
- Visit www.roswellchickenman.com to donate to this cause.
- Spread the word. Tell everyone you know. This isn’t JUST about the chickens. It’s about the city and the personal vendetta they have against a citizen. It could easily be you or me, just in a different context.
“When governments fear the people, there is liberty. When the people fear the government, there is tyranny.”- Thomas Jefferson
Roswell Patch Article 8/2/2001 http://roswell.patch.com/articles/roswells-chicken-man-heads-back-to-court
Roswell Patch Article 7/3/2011 http://roswell.patch.com/articles/roswell-chicken-man-cries-foul
CBS Atlanta Coverage http://www.cbsatlanta.com/story/15037844/roswell-chicken-man-says-someone-vandalized-his-property-and-poisoned-50-of-his-birds
Facebook Support Page: http://www.facebook.com/RoswellChickenMan#!/RoswellChickenMan?sk=info