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A proposed new animal ordinance and other items discussed at this week’s BOC meeting
FCN Forsyth County Administration Building

New proposed rules for animal contol, denial of a planned commercial use on Windermere Parkway and changes to the county’s rules for breweries and distilleries were among items discussed at a regular meeting of the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners on Thursday. 

All items were approved by a 5-0 vote, unless otherwise noted.  

Animal Control ordinance 

Commissioners took no action but held the first of two required public hearings for proposed changes to the county’s animal control ordinance. Attorney Molly Esswein, with County Attorney Ken Jarrard’s office, presented the item and said the changes would “strengthen the ordinance in many ways.” 

“One of the key motivations on this was to look at the dangerous dog, the responsible dog ownership laws that the state has and coordination with our ordinance,” she said, “to make sure that animal services had all the tools that they need to go out and protect the public and make sure they can make those key determinations about when to classify a dog as dangerous or vicious.” 

The changes would update definitions for suitable food, water, and adequate shelter; change the policy for animals in hot vehicles; give the ability to fine animal hoarders; and set policies for horses and other equines previously under the state Department of Agriculture. 

“We have added and expanded to the definition of adequate shelter and cleaned up those definitions a lot and also have added a new section dealing with the neglect of animals, so that animal control can look at a case that might not necessarily rise to the level of cruelty, but they can still be sure to have an impact when they’re out in the field looking at how animals are being treated,” Esswein said. 

The ordinance will also deal with rules for what happens when dogs or other animals are suspected of having rabies.  

There were no speakers during the public hearing.  

Use denied 

Commissioners denied a proposal for an amendment to a zoning condition for 1.5 undeveloped acres for a planned home renovation office and showroom with an attached warehouse at the intersection of Windermere Parkway and Towne Club Parkway. 

The request involved shifting some parking to the front of the building instead of at the back and side, as allowed under the county code, and allowing the warehouse, which would have been operated with limited hours.  

BOC Chairwoman Laura Semanson said she appreciated the work done for the conditions but said a “root issue” was whether officials with the development would be able to have the business without a warehouse, as is the case in Cobb County. 

“Quite frankly, I have had several issues where we’ve had remnant parcels of the old Windermere MPD come forward,” she said. “What was sold to the county 14 years ago in no way or shape or form resembles the way that it has been built out.” 

Semanson said the area was a “residential corridor with neighborhood-oriented retail and office” with a lot of pedestrians and an industrial use was “a leap too far” before making the motion for denial, which was approved unanimously.  

Distillery and brewery changes  

Areas with a restricted industrial (M1) zoning district have new rules for operating distilleries and breweries. 

Previously, breweries and distilleries were not allowed in the zoning category, but the change will mean owners can come apply for a conditional-use permit in those areas now. 

The county’s planning board had recommended the use be allowed without requiring a permit, but commissioners and other county officials wanted to have the option to limit any potential large breweries that might want to come to the area.