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Eminent Domain, Roswell, Georgia and the “Chicken Man”

ROSWELL, GA – Andrew Wordes, known around Roswell as the “chicken man,” died in his home this past weekend when it exploded. Wordes had spent years fighting for the right to continue raising chickens on his property. Some say the tragedy was the result of one man’s refusal to obey city ordinances; others believe this was just another case of a municipality making a shameless grab for a private citizen’s land through eminent domain.

Friends believe the ending was almost inevitable, considering the course the local government pursued in constantly harassing Mr. Wordes. He was first cited in 2009 for raising chickens in a residential area. That incident resulted in one judge ruling in the “chicken man’s” favor but a second judge ruling against him.

Wordes ultimately served three months in the Roswell Detention Center last year after a judge revoked his probation for city code violations on his property. Upon his release last year he reported his home had been ransacked and several high-powered weapons stolen.

Just recently, lawyers for Wordes sought a temporary restraining order to prevent foreclosure on his property. TV Channel 2’s Mike Petchenik reported that Wordes said he was scheduled for a court appearance that morning on a traffic citation but feared Marshals would repossess his home while he was gone.

Wordes called Petchenik and asked him to tell the Marshals to leave the property because it “wasn’t going to be pretty.” Then, the home exploded. “I appreciate everything, brother. I appreciate everything you’ve done,” he told Petchenik before the explosion.

A friend of Andrew Wordes gave these fitting words on his website:

We all lost a little something today. Andrew was a man of faith, with a strong love for God. He was a staunch Constitutionalist with a passion for our freedoms and liberties. He taught me a lot in the short time I knew him. We talked often and he openly shared his story and his dedication to what America used to stand for. He was a fighter and I admired his immense devotion to his sweet birds, pigs, and dogs. He cared about everyone around him and was always kind and generous. I am saddened that evil trampled him to the end of his rope.

Andrew fought the good fight, not just for himself but for others because he knew it could happen to anyone. And it is. Eminent domain is being abused all over our country, just look it up. Communities are plagued with repeated abuses of the use of eminent domain. It’s tragic and your neighborhood could be next. Andrew fought to his last breath, for himself, for me, for you. In his mind, he went on his terms. Right out of Atlas Shrugged. Andrew is at peace now but it’s not over.

The Rest of the Story

What is not being reported by many is that this is hardly the whole story. In truth, Mr. Wordes’ problems with City Hall had very little to do with chickens. There is strong evidence the city of Rosell had its eyes on 97 prime acres, which included Mr. Wordes’ property, as far back as 2003.

A map published back in 2003, as part of Roswell’s 2030 Comprehensive Plan, shows that the city had major plans for his property. The property, it seems, sits square in the middle of a planned city park. His property was targeted for “city improvements”, and his fight had nothing to do with chickens.

The city council approved a new ordinance On Dec. 14, 2009 that banned roosters and limited the number of chickens a resident could have based on lot size. Wordes claimed that the harassment started immediately after the meeting, when Roswell police ticketed him for no insurance and a number of other moving violations. Here is what followed from that point on:

  • In September of 2010, Roswell prosecuted Wordes under the new ordinance claiming he had too many birds for his lot size. The judge found him not guilty since he had the chickens before the ordinance became law.
  • In September of 2010, he was convicted of grading sediment on his land without a permit and having inoperable vehicles in his yard.  He was sentenced to community service.
  • In November of 2010, code enforcement served Wordes with a nuisance citation.
  • After winning twice in court against the city, the county then got involved and actually cited him for “not properly stacking his firewood.”
  • In 2011, the 84 year-old women who held Mr. Wordes mortgage was harassed by the city into selling Wordes mortgage for forty cents on the dollar. The city then began the foreclosure process.
  • While in the process of trying to save his home, Andrew Wordes was arrested by Roswell police on the day that he was to bring paperwork that would’ve delayed his bankruptcy and the foreclosure on his home.
  • Wordes was jailed for violating his probation after the city claimed he only served 122 of the 150 hours of community service that he had been ordered to serve.  He then served 99 days in jail.

The use of eminent domain and other “environmental regulations” to remove private citizens from their property is not isolated to one Atlanta bedroom community. Property rights are being threatened at an alarming rate, especially as America moves from an agrarian to urban majority.

From Florida, where anything facing water is fair game, to Amish country where weekend urbanites oppose tractor noise waking them up on Saturday morning, private land is a target for “legal” takeover.

Hopefully, the untimely death of “chicken man” Andrew Wordes can serve as a wake-up call.

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