This is one of those stories that often never makes it to the Front Page of any newspaper or website. It’s a story about Property Rights and Eminent domain. It’s the story of one man who tried to fight back; and sadly it’s the story of a man who lost it all in the process. It’s also a story that can happen to anyone who is reading this article.
The story begins back in 2009 when Andrew Wordes, otherwise known as the Roswell Chicken Man, began his fight to raise chickens on his property. In February 2009, the city of Roswell, GA started to cite Andrew Wordes for raising livestock in his backyard. Wordes, who had started raising chickens on his .97-acre homestead in 2005, decided to fight back. And guess what he Won.
But sadly, that’s when the real trouble started:
You see, the story actually has very little to do with chickens. While the city of Roswell, and cities just like it across America ,would like people to believe it’s as simple as chickens – the real story is about the rights of property owners.
In a map that was published back in 2003, as part of Roswell’s 2030 Comprehensive Plan for city improvements, one thing becomes painfully obvious. The city had already planned to take Wordes property.
The Map showed that the city had major plans for his property. In fact, Wordes property sat right in the middle of a planned city park. His property was being targeted for “city improvements”, and this fight had nothing to do with chickens. The chickens were really just the catalyst for the city to unlawfully seize his land.
After initially winning his fight in municipal court, the City of Roswell made Wordes life a living hell.
The Harassment Begins…
On Dec. 14, 2009, the city council approved a new ordinance banning roosters and using lot size to limit how many chickens a resident could keep. 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.
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.
After his release, he placed a sign on his property that read “Trespassers will be construed as a bodily threat” and then waited for authorities to arrive and remove him.