The Brookhaven City Council voted unanimously June 29 to approve an ordinance outlining guidelines for those wanting to raise backyard chickens and backyard bees.

Ester Graff-Radford of Brookhaven says she is known affectionately as the “chicken lady” and supported the City Council’s guidelines for backyard chickens. (Dyana Bagby)

Some residents in the city have been keeping chickens and bees already, but the council wanted to implement some restrictions to “inject some sanity,” said Councilmember John Park.

The ordinance goes into effect Aug. 1 and includes these guidelines:

  • Minimum fenced yard area for chickens is 25 square feet per 1 bird.
  • Each chicken must have a minimum of four square feet in the coop.
  • Coops must be located at least 7.5 feet from any property line.
  • Minimum lot size for keeping backyard chickens is 6,000 square feet.
  • The maximum number of chickens is 25 per lot. No owner shall have more than one chicken per 1,000 square feet of lot area.
  • No roosters allowed.
  • Chickens must be kept in an enclosed pen or yard at all times.
  • Chickens are only permitted as pets or for egg production; they are not to be kept for slaughter.

For bees, the ordinance mandates that no more than four hives are allowed per quarter-acre and no more than eight hives are allowed on any lot.

Prior to this ordinance, the city was following DeKalb County’s zoning codes when it came to keeping backyard chickens.

Recently, a resident complained to city officials about a smell emanating from a neighbor’s home where it was discovered the homeowner was keeping numerous chickens in squalid conditions, including the use of a swimming pool that was filled with black and moldy water, according to City Manager Christian Sigman.

Ester Graff-Radford of Redding Road, who has had up to 20 chickens in her yard, said she’s known as the “chicken lady.” She said backyard chickens “bring neighbors together.”

“I have friends who come over and sit on my porch swing and watch the chickens. It’s relaxing, like watching fish in an aquarium,” she said.

No one spoke in opposition.

The Dunwoody City Council in May approved a backyard chicken ordinance. Sandy Springs also allows backyard chickens.  The city of Atlanta also allows backyard chickens and even backyard goats.