UPDATED: Aug. 3, 9:05 a.m. - Roswell's ongoing battle with Andrew Wordes, better known as the city's "Chicken Man," will move back into a courtroom Aug. 9 when he is scheduled to appear before Municipal Court Judge Maurice Hilliard for a probation revocation hearing.
Wordes, who earned his nickname because of the the dozens of chickens he keeps on his property, has been in a constant battle with the city of Roswell over its ordinances. Last fall he entered an Alford plea - which asserts innocence, but admits that he could be found guilty by the prosecution - for having too many cars on his property and for illegally grading his yard. He was ordered to perform 180 hours of community service, in lieu of a $1,500 fine, and placed on probation.
That was nine months ago. Wordes, says he has been doing his community service, but admits he has had some trouble doing as much as he used to, recently.
"I always checked in for probation as required but I missed two appointments recently," he said. "Once was in June immediately after doing community service that my probation officer was aware of; and then, in July, just after my house was was vandalized, my chickens killed and I had just gotten home from the hospital and was heavily medicated do to a chronic health issue."
Wordes claims there was never a question of "shirking" his responsibilities and that he has been in touch with officers from the Roswell Police Department on a continual basis.
Wordes says, his ongoing problems with the city are more about his chickens and the city's desire to see him move outside its limits than any one particular ordinance. He claims he is being harassed by the city.
In 2009, Wordes defeated the city’s efforts to rid him of his chickens when Hilliard ruled the city's ordinance was unconstitutional. The ordinance was then rewritten but it couldn't be applied to Wordes who had been "grandfathered" in.
"I chose to live in Roswell because I really loved this area," Wordes said. "I raise the chickens as a hobby, not for a living. This fighting with me over these chickens has just grown to be ridiculous."
To support his his claim of being singled out by the city, Wordes says, he is constantly being followed by Roswell police.
"I've had 30 traffic stops in the city of Roswell in the last 18 months and none anywhere else," he said.
"Just for the record, Fulton County Health [Department] determined there were violations at my house; my fire wood was not properly stacked and had to be elevated six onches off of the ground and on a pallet and my lawnmowers were not covered from the rain. Fulton County Animal Services said my animals were all well cared for and there were no violations at all," Wordes told Roswell Patch.
Assistant City Attorney Bob Hulsey says Wordes' claim of harassment simply is not true.
"Absolutely not." Hulsey said Friday. "I've tried to deescalate the situation. I've even tried to get the solicitor to hold off on any criminal charges against Mr. Wordes. But he was supposed to report monthly to perform community service (since November 2010) and he's reported only twice. He was ordered to perform 180 hours of service and has only done between 20 and 30 hours."
Wordes, however, remains unconvinced.
He says the city "intimidated" his elderly mortgage holder into selling it at a reduced rate to someone who is now attempting to foreclose on the property. Wordes and his neighbor - who was just foreclosed upon recently after 18 years - believe the city should apply for Federal Emergency Management Agency funding to purchase the properties, which have been damaged by flooding.
"I’m right and I don’t have a problem fighting for what I believe in," he said. "There's no question about that."