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Proposed dog-training kennel riles neighbors

Plan moves along to commission

POSTED: January 24, 2013 12:30 a.m.

Forsyth County’s planning board has recommended approval of a contested conditional use permit for a kennel associated with a dog training business in west Forsyth.

Planning commissioners on Tuesday voted 3-2, with Joe Moses and Craig Nolen opposed, to support the permit for a 900-square-foot kennel on 1.5 acres of agriculturally zoned property.

The recommendation will go to the county commission for a final vote, scheduled for Feb. 21.

Lisa Matthews, an established dog trainer who owns the Dogwood Lane home, wants the permit so she can conduct classes there, which sometimes requires keeping dogs overnight as part of the training, attorney Ethan Underwood said.

Matthews runs Pawsitive Practice Training, which operates throughout the north Atlanta metro area.

The application originally sought to allow up to 10 dogs at a time, Underwood said, but that was lowered to six dogs from four customers after nearly 30 neighbors opposed the plan at a public participation meeting.

Underwood said Matthews wants to be a good neighbor, and so proposed conditions to address concerns.

“This use is appropriate for this zoning category, but given the surrounding area, the specific circumstances, we want to come back in the public forum to consider certain conditions to ameliorate the impact on neighbors,” he said, describing the conditional use permit process.

Conditions that went along with the board’s vote included: no dogs outside overnight; a limit on the number of dogs and cars; and size restrictions for the monument sign.

Several nearby residents, including those in the Cardinal Springs subdivision, felt the kennel concept was not appropriate for the area and asked the board to deny the request.

Though the property is zoned agricultural, David Oles said it is used only for residential purposes and is in a residential area.

“There are a lot of people in there that are very vested in their homes and take good care of their homes,” Oles said. “We like the character of our community, and we have a great deal of concern that this is going to bring commercial traffic and business that’s not going to be conducive to maintaining the character of that area over a long period of time.”

He cited traffic safety concerns on the narrow, rural road, potential impact to a stream and watershed, noise issues and concerns for safety of neighborhood children.

Adam Gabriel, who lives closest to the proposed kennel, worried about the impact to his home value.

“Who would want to have a dog kennel in their back yard?” he asked.

The discussion among the neighbors and the planning board spanned nearly an hour before the district’s appointed representative made a motion to recommend the permit be approved.

Pam Bowman included eight conditions with her suggestion to grant the request, which she prefaced with her reasoning.

“We have to base our recommendations on land use legal requirements,” Bowman said. “It does go on to the board of commissioners and you all need to do your due diligence between now and then.”


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