Jesup livestock ordinance ruffles feathers

Published: Mar. 2, 2023 at 6:24 PM EST
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JESUP, Ga. (WTOC) - A Jesup city ordinance is ruffling some feathers.

As it stands now, you cannot legally own livestock within city limits without special approval from the city commission. One resident applied for permission to keep the chickens he already had, but the commissioners voted it down 6-0.

Now, people in the town are feeling frustrated over what happens next.

“I’ve had chickens since I’ve been here about the past 35 years,” Randy Little said.

Little is a veteran, and he’s lived in Jesup nearly all his life. He said he’s always had chickens.

“It gives me peace of mind. I’ve got PTSD, I don’t mind telling you, they give me peace of mind throughout the day. The chickens here I’ve had for about a year and a half, I’ve had chickens on this property about 35 years – never been a problem,” Little said.

According to the city, someone filed a complaint against Little’s chickens causing the city to issue a warning and a citation for violating the city ordinance that bans livestock within city limits.

“With the neighbor reporting it, we’re obligated to go enforce that ordinance. The city doesn’t have a chicken patrol, so we’re not out looking for that. Now, if they see it, or if a citizen files a complaint, we have an obligation to follow up on that,” Jesup Mayor Ralph Hickox said.

Little said he’s frustrated since he says many of his friends and neighbors own chickens without any issues.

“Everybody knows there’s chickens all over Jesup. They’ve been here since I was a youngin’. I still don’t understand how it’s okay for them to be uptown but not here,” Little said.

Mayor Hickox says the ordinance remains the same – and exceptions are rare.

“The board has never given an exception to anybody because of the fear of opening up Pandora’s Box, and then you’ve got a pile of animals in the city,” he said.

Little said he’ll do what it takes to keep his chickens, including launching an effort to change the ordinance.

“I don’t know what it’s going to take to get it changed. Glennville’s got it, Savannah you can have chickens, Jacksonville you can have chickens, I don’t know what it’s going to take to get it changed, but I’m going to work on it,” Little said.

While the ordinance remains the same for now, Mayor Hickox said he encourages his constituents to reach out to their city commissioner if they’re interested in getting the ordinance changed.