You can fry chickens, but you can’t keep ‘em, zoning officials tell Paula Deen

Down on the Georgia coast, the long arm of Chatham County officials are reaching into the backyards of celebrity cook Paula Deen and others – for keeping chickens in a non-agricultural zone.


From the Savannah Morning News:

Deen’s publicist Nancy Assuncao said Deen believes she is in compliance with the zoning ordinance. If the county finds otherwise, Assuncao said, it would upset Deen to have to get rid of her beloved birds, which were rescued after serving as monitors for West Nile virus for the Chatham County Mosquito Control Board.

“I don’t know what to say; it’ll be devastating to her,” Assuncao said. “When she’s home the thing she loves so much is to see her chickens at the start of the day. She holds them like they’re little babies.”

Sounds like a job for former Gov. Roy Barnes, who recently beat a similar ordinance in Roswell.

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

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55 comments Add your comment


June 28th, 2011
10:07 am

Bet she feeds them butter.


June 28th, 2011
10:15 am

Well, she can either file a suit and fight the law or she has to obey the law. No one is above the law, not matter how well they cook.


June 28th, 2011
10:20 am

get some context: how many chickens?


June 28th, 2011
10:24 am

I thought this was a “Political Insider” blog – not a silly human interest one.

Here is a political article of the day which shows why states like Georgia are forced to defend their own borders:

Dems Push Ahead With DREAM Act, as ICE Offers New Guidelines for Illegal Immigrant Cases

A memo issued June 17 from ICE Director John Morton instructs staff to consider 19 factors when exercising “prosecutorial discretion” — or the discretion an ICE attorney has in deciding whether and how to pursue or dismiss an immigration case.

The list includes factors similar to those in the DREAM Act.

The Federation for American Immigration Reform, or FAIR, decried the new set of instructions, describing it as a gift to DREAM Act proponents. Though Durbin is pushing anew to pass the legislation, the now GOP-controlled House is unlikely to approve any such bill, even if it clears the Senate. “By administrative fiat, they are achieving a grand-scale amnesty for large classes of illegal aliens that they have been unable to accomplish with the stalled DREAM Act legislation,” FAIR said in a statement last week.


June 28th, 2011
10:49 am

Yes, everyone speaks of property rights until they want the chickens out of their neighbor’s yard. Or they are happy with the totalitarianism of zoning regulations until it impacts a beloved star of TV. This country suffers from tremendous hipocracy when it comes to property rights. We condemn anyone who says that a restaurant owner should be able to not serve whomever they wish, but agree that a homeowner should have that right as if property ownership rights are somehow different.

Our country is in the kind of serious trouble it is in because we lost touch with property rights a long time ago. Until we restore rights for EVERYONE, we will all suffer the same fate as Paula eventually. It is chickens for her, gardens for others, flagpoles for others, paint color on the house for others, etc. Government IS THE PROBLEM and their power must be taken away.


June 28th, 2011
10:52 am

I hope she will be able to keep them. :) They are her pets.


June 28th, 2011
11:03 am

Paula needs to abide by rules,and law same as others.Elected and politicans should render Caesars his dues as expected of others.


June 28th, 2011
11:16 am

Maybe she could fry them up for us on July 4th.


June 28th, 2011
11:42 am

Mr. Liberty,

You make some good points, but it’s not always government that’s infringing on the rights of others. In many cases, such as HOA’s and large employers, private “authorities” have claimed legal authority (with the blessing and help of the government officials they own) to dictate personal behavior of others. Sure, you can just “buy a house somewhere else” or “get a job somewhere else” — unless it’s not a truly viable option for you. Then you’re stuck with private citizens saying you can’t grow your own food on your own property, or you can’t puff a marlboro on the weekend, even when you’re not at work, because it’s against company policy.

Saying “gubmint is the problem” is an over-simplification of a complex system of “who’s the boss.”


June 28th, 2011
11:43 am

that’s fowl


June 28th, 2011
12:01 pm

Why doesn’t it mention the number of chickens? This article is meaningless.


June 28th, 2011
12:02 pm

I suppose that if she was little, brown Paola Deeno she would have had the full force of the Chatham County Zoning Authority bearing down on her way before now. Isn’t chickens in the yard exactly what annoys the dickens out of the anti-immigrant crowd?


June 28th, 2011
12:05 pm

Jim Gallaway, like many other media outlets (CNN) are making a bad attempt at entertaining, when they should be doing what they DID best reporting the news


June 28th, 2011
12:05 pm

for goodness sake, let’s let folks keep a few chickens in their own backyards…


June 28th, 2011
12:08 pm

Mr. Liberty,

Easy to say “Government is the problem.” They do too many stupid things not to believe that. But there are reasonable things governments should be allowed to do. And maybe regulating number of chickens allowed in your yard in an urban area is one of them. Don’t know why Paula Deen should be allowed to keep them if she is violating the law. Maybe because she is rich and famous? Personally think she cooks with too much butter anyway…

Rip n' Read

June 28th, 2011
12:18 pm

Those chickens better sleep with one eye open.

The truth be told

June 28th, 2011
12:19 pm

If the Chickens were illegal immigrants from Mexico they would not have to be moved because apparently Georgia can not function without them at least according to the AJC. Tell Paula Im going to print up the illegal papers and the ACLU will file suit to stop this Chicken roundup. I think it might be racial profiling.

Real Athens

June 28th, 2011
12:19 pm

Anyone ever live next door to a large rooster? It’s a night(and)day-mare. They belong is areas zoned for agriculture.

Wade Hobbs

June 28th, 2011
12:20 pm

Earth is saved. Chatham County saves chickens.

A Conservative Voice

June 28th, 2011
12:35 pm

Shoot, just find a good tree stump, sharpen the axe and cut that chicken’s head off, pluck it, clean it and fry it up in an iron skillet with some lard…… grandpa says, um, um goooood.


June 28th, 2011
12:36 pm

Real Athens, better several roosters than a neighbor who mows, or leaf blows, or revs his car engine at 6 am on Sunday!


June 28th, 2011
12:57 pm

There is absolutely nothing wrong with profiling LAW BREAKERS and that is what illegal aliens/immigrants are – Law Breakers. Police do it every day when a BOLO (Be On Look Out) is transmitted……Illegal aliens need to be fearful because sooner or later they will be rounded up and shipped out. The sooner the better!

Foghorn Leghorn

June 28th, 2011
1:01 pm

This is outrageous, I says. I says something needs to be done about this fowl discrimination. I says, boy, what kind of world is it when chickens aren’t afforded the same rights as dogs and cats? Outrageous!


June 28th, 2011
1:06 pm

Eat mo’ chicken.


June 28th, 2011
1:08 pm

GaBlue and pb – first I see reference to the “blessing and help of government authorities”. There you go. Where does government get the power to destroy one’s property rights, when they are SUPPOSED to have been created to protect our rights??? As for what a private employer wishes based on a contract you voluntarily signed, what part of voluntary are you not understanding? What government does is set up business license fees, regulations, restrictions, property zoning regulations, etc. etc. etc. that keep competing businesses from being an alternative for the employee or even prevent the employee from setting up their own business. I support absolute freedom so long as you are not violating someone else’s property or person. Of course we don’t have that, and that is why I continue to condemn government power.

Again with the claims that there are “reasonable” things that governments should be allowed to do. So what are they? List them out. I bet your list isn’t the same as mine. 2 chickens ok, but 3 is not. Why not? Maybe the local Publix doesn’t like the competition? What about flag poles? What about laws that are changed AFTER I buy my property? The 5th amendment to the constitution says that no citizen will be deprived of his property except for necessary public use and will be compensated. While I am not a fan of even that power, the taking of one’s rights regarding property usage is a taking nonetheless and it happens without any compensation. Nobody should be able to decide what can be done with a piece of property except the owner. PERIOD (so long as their use doesn’t violate someone else’s property rights, etc. (pollution, etc.)

One can always come up with some straw man justification for what government is needed for, but in the end, the laws are always arbitrary, politically motivated, and violate people’s rights without compensation. Mentioning the LAW in the Paula Dean situation is the dead giveaway. The LAW is not a natural law against violence, harm, etc. It is a man-made law that was likely NOT on the books at some point in the town’s history.

Government IS the problem. Political solutions are not how property rights are protected. They are how they are abused and destroyed.


June 28th, 2011
1:18 pm

I love how people always refer to “law breakers” as if the LAW predates human existence. There are natural laws like those against violence, harm, damage to property, etc., laws like these are man-made. My parents were not criminals when they allowed me to ride in the car without a seatbelt on. Those laws came later. People who possessed or sold alcohol in 1915 were not criminals even though they became criminals when Prohibition was enacted. People who owned a pitbull were not criminals until the local government passed a law that suddenly made their dog illegal and them a criminal (despite no harm to anyone by their dog).

The majority can get together to violate the rights of anyone or any group they choose so long as they are blessed by the process and supported by the inherent violence of government. The constitution was supposed to protect us from this kind of abuse, but it is really just a worthless piece of paper these days. Property rights were supposed to be protected, but that ship has sailed as well.

When you support these kind of property rights violations with hollow justifications you are part of the problem. We MUST demand that government protect people’s rights or surely our rights will be next in line to be violated.


June 28th, 2011
1:22 pm

The saddest commentary on the situation can be seen in the way this issue is joked about in these posts either because Paula is a celebrity or because the comedians don’t own chickens and just don’t really care. As the famous quote goes:

“First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out – because I was not a communist;
Then they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out – because I was not a socialist;
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out – because I was not a trade unionist;
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out – because I was not a Jew;
Then they came for me – and there was no one left to speak out for me.”

First they came for the chicken farmers……..


June 28th, 2011
1:29 pm

Barnes fought with Marietta for keeping his cows, not Roswell.


June 28th, 2011
1:42 pm

First, I’m for sure not a fan of Ms. Deen. But with that being said, she has taken in birds that served a noble cause. They were put on a potential “death row” for human kind. Second, what happened to personal rights? It’s her land, her birds and her rights. The government thugs need to deal with real issues and leave one’s personal liberty’s the hell alone. Signed, a chicken owner.

Gee Tee

June 28th, 2011
1:48 pm

Tom at 1007 am

That is hilarious. But I think it is pronounce buttahhhh


June 28th, 2011
2:00 pm

I heard shes an evil bitch to work for.

Common Sense

June 28th, 2011
2:02 pm

Imagine if we had these wonderful regulations in 1780. Most of America would have starved to death. Innovation stifled. Inventions shelved.

Thank God we have government involved in every last phase of our lives.

Bawk Bawk

June 28th, 2011
2:09 pm

Well, this is chicken sh*t. Pun intended.

Some questions I would like answered:
(1) How many chickens does she have?
(2) Are they free-range or kept in an enclosure?
(3) Are they a nuisance (ie. noise, smell, or excrement is unbearable to neighbors?)

On the same note, Gwinnett County has a very convoluted definition of “livestock” – and almost everything falls underneath it, including poultry and rabbits and stuff like that. All they say is: “The keeping of livestock is restricted in most residential areas.” And they never define how many of something makes it qualified as livestock. So, does one kids’ pet rabbit mean that he is a rabbit farmer?

Additionally, the city you live in usually trumps the county. For example, the city of Norcross states that it is legal to have chickens within Norcross city limits:

Sec. 34-69. Determination of nuisances.
Pursuant to the power vested in the council by the city charter, the following conditions are specifically declared to be nuisances:
(5) The keeping of animals or fowl, except under the following conditions: all housing, enclosures or any other areas used by animals or fowl shall be clean, well-drained and free from the accumulation of excrement; maintaining a dangerous or diseased animal or fowl

So, the noise from chickens and other fowl could constitute a violation of the code. But so can barking dogs! :-)

I say unless Paula’s chickens are loud, obnoxious, stinky, and an eyesore – then leave them in peace. And maybe you’ll get some fresh eggs and good chicken recipes from her as a thank-you.


June 28th, 2011
2:18 pm

In Georgia every move someone makes is politcal. You people hate each other so much that you make everything a problem.
The AJC loves to stir the pot. They are the Bob Uecker of newspapers.

Reality Bites

June 28th, 2011
2:25 pm

I grow corn in my backyard…hope none of my neighbors mind.


June 28th, 2011
2:34 pm

Look, Paula was fine serving her little lunches in brown paper bags back years ago. This women is not a chef, and is not really a good cook. She and husband are fat as pigs, and that’s a shame. She’s also not entertainment.


June 28th, 2011
2:43 pm

Probably the blacks. again.


June 28th, 2011
2:53 pm

That’s okay Reality, everybody knows corn don’t grown on rocky top, dirt’s too rocky by far, and that’s why all the folks on rocky top get their corn from a jar. I’d like a gallon of that rheumatis’ medicine for myself.


June 28th, 2011
3:18 pm

From what I can tell from her TV program, she has about 10-20 chickens, they are kept in a very nice enclosed pen and are treated like royalty. That being said, I can’t believe anyone cares about hers or anyone else’s chickens when there’s so much else going on that needs our government’s attention. This should be on the Ridiculist!

Pine Needle

June 28th, 2011
3:26 pm


According to the Savannah paper, no complaints have been received about Paula’s fowl situation; she appears to have about eight birds, all female. However, a complaint was filed on another resident who has 22 chickens, and he gave Paula’s name as several owners who were also raising chickens.

Paula’s chicken coop is about 75 yards from any neighbors.


June 28th, 2011
3:41 pm

did you know you can have something like 6-8 chickens on your Dekalb county inside-the-perimeter property and not be in violation of any ordinance or law? Yes, you can!

Billy "Paula's Neighbor" Jones

June 28th, 2011
3:41 pm

I am sick and tired of dem dare chikin’s crappin in my ‘materz ! I am gonna rang dare neks !


June 28th, 2011
3:54 pm

why is the article under the political insider blog?

butter feed

June 28th, 2011
4:08 pm

To Funny = Bet she feeds them butter.


June 28th, 2011
4:18 pm

Former Governor Barnes resides in Marietta, not Roswell.


June 28th, 2011
4:39 pm

Former Gov. Roy Barnes defended Mr. Andrew Wordes right to keep chickens in his yard. The City of Roswell Courts found in favor of Mr. Wordes. In spite of this court decision, the City of Roswell continues to harass Mr. Wordes and make his life miserable. I guess chickens remind City officials of Roswell humble beginnings as a mill town and they are “too fancy ” for all that history unless it is about historic buildings .


June 28th, 2011
5:50 pm

Good God!! The woman lives on the river with no one around her for miles!!! She has kept chickens for years!! Now they want to make her move her chickens or get rid of they have nothing else better to do then pick on little ole Miss Paula?

check again

June 28th, 2011
6:00 pm

Actually if Paula wants to keep her chicken she can use Georgia Code § 2-1-6(a)(b). State law trumps local ordinances and this one specifically says NO county can regulate this issue. Keep those chickens!

Doris M

June 28th, 2011
6:22 pm

What I’ve read about the way chickens are raised and processed, everybody ought to have some chickens in the back yard. They certainly would be better than the fowl sold in the markets. You go Paula!


June 28th, 2011
6:39 pm

Wow Paula looks about 10 years older in this photo than she does on the TV screen. The chicken crisis must’ve really got to her.