Wednesday, May 8, 2013
Open letter to Peachtree City Manager Jim Pennington
Jim, Jim, Jim ... I feel sorry for you! You must be worried and exasperated because you are expected to allocate a portion of your busy staff’s time to research the pros and cons of permitting back yard hens and chicken coops in Peachtree City.
City Council members could have hired a chicken consultant but they threw it in your lap. Although hen house research is a really “chicken” assignment, I am confident you will scratch up enough relevant information for the council to consider as it deliberates this highly critical issue.
Proponents of changing the ordinance to permit chickens in Peachtree City argue that a back yard hen program with chicken coops and the increased presence of chicken manure will improve the quality of life, beautify neighborhoods and increase the value of homes in Peachtree City. They contend that chickens in back yards will create jobs and attract new businesses. They say the economic impact of chickens in Peachtree City could rival the highly touted Pinewood Atlanta Studio project in Fayetteville.
Chicken supporters vehemently deny that chicken manure has a bad smell. Shorty Horton, my high school friend from Carrollton, learned in 1959 that they are flat wrong. Shorty was the grass cutter for several prominent families in Carrollton until he got a job washing cars at Curly Munroe’s Shell station near Bremen. During his grass cutting days Shorty supplemented his income by cleaning Digger Lumsden’s chicken coops and hauling the manure to Old Man Brown’s farm off the Newnan highway.
Shorty soon discovered that instead of hauling manure to the farm he could spread it on the yards of his customers and make the grass greener and healthier. This worked fine until the homeowners and their neighbors began to complain about the bad smell. Police Chief Radar Threadgill talked to Shorty in a nice way and told him to discontinue his fertilization program and haul the manure out of town. Shorty learned his lesson and told everybody in town that “chicken manure stinks and pouring perfume on it makes it worse.”
Unfortunately, a handful of mean-spirited troublemakers in Peachtree City agree with Shorty and deny the aesthetic benefits of chicken coops. They flat oppose turning Peachtree City into chicken utopia. The anti-chicken group expresses fear that our chicken-friendly town will be highlighted nationally as part of Jay Leno’s monologue.
You will recall that Leno made a big deal about the arrest of a blind man driving a golf cart accompanied by a passenger and a dog. The blind man’s story to the police was that his passenger was too drunk to drive. The punch line was that they should have let the dog drive.
Leno also poked fun at Peachtree City when a former mayor floated the idea of acquiring a few city funded goats to graze right-of-way and green belt areas as his new kudzu control program.
Jim, you are an outstanding city manager but strong convictions on both sides of the chicken fiasco place you in the middle of a wedge issue that presents a problem for elected city officials during an election year.
I hesitate to make your situation worse; however, I feel compelled to speak up on behalf of the rooster population. The proposed ordinance under consideration by the politicians allows only hens in Peachtree City. It specifically prohibits roosters, which is gender discrimination more grievous than any of the recent complaints and legal action against the city police and fire departments.
Such a discriminating ordinance could result in more litigation brought by some exhausted rooster or deranged taxpayer against the city. I hope you will consult City Attorney Ted Meeker on this issue before you prepare your final report. Meeker has the wisdom of Solomon on such matters and his comments about a chicken ordinance that discriminates against roosters should be interesting and informative.
I talked with several local residents about gender discrimination against roosters and there is considerable support for the rooster population. Most observers see it as an issue of fairness. It is unfair to sentence hens to a lifetime without fertilized eggs and it is unfair to Fayette County roosters to be denied the pleasure of fertilizing eggs within the city limits of Peachtree City.
Some residents cited a hen safety issue as it relates to banning roosters from our city. Roosters are very aggressive and will protect hens from predator coyotes lurking around chicken coops.
Finally, there is the alarm clock argument. Roosters are reliable in carrying out the traditional duty of “crowing” every morning at daylight. The presence of roosters in every Peachtree City neighborhood will virtually eliminate the need for alarm clocks. Families will wake up earlier and have more time together. Children will arrive at school earlier and test scores will be higher if roosters are permitted in Peachtree City. Who would have thought there is a high correlation between the presence of roosters and student achievement?
Jim, when you were a young lad in eastern Kentucky, a bunch of yankees from big cities moved to the northern Atlanta suburbs of Forsyth, Dawson and Gwinnett Counties. These newcomers did not understand or appreciate mules. Some ran for city council seats in small towns and got elected. Their first order of business in Duluth, Cumming, Norcross, and Dawsonville was to propose controversial ordinances prohibiting local folks from keeping mules in their back yards. It was a dark day for mules.
The north Georgia mule controversy led to the formation of an organization known as MOPE (Mules over People Everytime). MOPE was an activist organization that promoted the rights of mules and opposed anti-mule political candidates. Some locally elected officials were kicked out of office over mule issues. MOPE also lobbied at the state capitol on behalf of the mule population until discrimination against mules disappeared around 1970.
Because of repeated efforts to discriminate against roosters, I dusted off the old MOPE paperwork and will soon have it updated thanks to the help of some friends. We will change the name of the association from MOPE to ROPE (Roosters over People Everytime) and begin defending the rooster population wherever there is gender discrimination.
Mike King has agreed to serve as interim president until we elect officers. The first meeting of the Peachtree City chapter of ROPE will be on Tuesday, May 14 at 9 a.m. in Terry Garlock’s booth at Mimi’s Fine Food.
Gee, I hope I did not spin enough yarn in this ROPE to hang myself.
[Scott Bradshaw, a resident of Peachtree City, is a real estate broker and residential real estate developer. His family has owned property in what is now Peachtree City since 1820. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.]