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Newton board recommends approval for animal rehab center
Animal rehab center
The site of a planned wildlife rehabilitation facility on Crowell Road is shown. - photo by Image courtesy of Google

COVINGTON, Ga. — The Newton County Planning Commission has voted to recommend approval of an animal rehabilitation center on Crowell Road.

Planning commissioners Aug. 24 voted to recommend the Newton County Board of Commissioners approve a conditional use permit (CUP) for the center at 706 Crowell Road — which is in an R2 Single-Family Residential zone.

They voted 4-0 to recommend the CUP with staff’s conditions for a “home occupation business with customer contact” on a 5.15-acre site. The applicant is Danielle Nicole Kanoy. 

County Development Services director Judy Johnson said even though the zoning ordinance does not allow keeping livestock in residential zones, the property historically had farm animals before the ordinance regulated them which made it a legal non-conforming use.  

State and federal law regulates other types of animals, she said. 

In addition, the ordinance does not specifically address animal rescue and rehabilitation centers.

The applicant also plans to use it for filming and educational purposes, which is similar to a variety of allowed uses in the ordinance, Johnson said.

As a result, she said "the use was given due process" and she concluded it was a "home occupation with customer contact," which was the broadest category she could find for what was planned.

However, because it had a "customer contact" element to it, the ordinance required the Board of Commissioners to consider a CUP for it after conducting a public hearing, she said.

Johnson added that her staff is reviewing the Home Occupation part of the zoning ordinance.

Kanoy has operated the nonprofit Wildlife Critters Circle of Life Rehabilitation Center for more than 20 years in a variety of locations. Its stated goal is to "rescue, rehabilitate, and release injured and orphaned native mammals, reptiles, and birds" and provide education about them. Occupants have included a miniature Scottish highlander cow, alpacas and more, according to its website.

A CUP allows the Board of Commissioners to approve a conditional use on a particular land parcel without changing the general zoning district, according to the county zoning ordinance.

It is valid for up to two years and cannot be transferred if a business or residence is sold, according to the ordinance.

In other action on Aug. 24, the planning commission approved a preliminary plat for the Salem Townhomes and Retail Center with some conditions at Salem Road and Georgia Hwy. 81.

The plan by applicant Phillip Johnson is for 20 townhomes and a small, neighborhood retail center.

Its site includes 5.06 acres and is in the Salem Overlay District's Tier 2, which either allows or requires a CUP for retail uses, depending on the use. 

Conditions included construction of a six-foot privacy fence for nine townhomes along the rear property line.

The planning commission also:

• Recommended the Board of Commissioners rezone 17 acres at 51 Cedar Road from R2 (Single-Residential) to AR (Agricultural Residential) to allow livestock and livestock quarters. Michael Stevens of McDonough is the applicant.

• Recommended the Board of Commissioners approve a CUP for an existing auto repair business on 3 acres at 11225 Hwy. 36 in the M1 (Light Industrial) zone. The CUP will give the applicant the ability to have 25% of the property used for outdoor storage. Derwin Bryan Davis of Conyers is the applicant.

• Approved applicant Dorothy M. Jackson's withdrawal of a request for the planning commission's approval of an administrative use permit for operation of an adult day care facility at 10173 Puckett St. The planning commission has final approval on such permits.

• Delayed until Sept. 28 consideration of a change in the uses allowed on 51 acres on Crowell Road.

Applicant Denny Dobbs requested a change from Tier 1 and 2 to entirely Tier 2 on the land. A change to Tier 2 would allow construction of a mixed-use development on the entire site, according to the ordinance.