Jason Flatt

Friends to the Forlorn Pitbull Rescue Inc. director Jason Flatt, at podium in background at left, answers questions from Paulding County Commission members attending the county planning board meeting last week. 

Friends to the Forlorn Pitbull Rescue Inc. director Jason Flatt, at podium in background, answers a question from County Commissioner Tony Crowe during the county planning board meeting last week. / Staff – Tom Spigolon

Paulding County commissioners foresee a difficult decision when a rezoning plan goes before them to allow expansion of a pitbull rescue group's facility, one commissioner said.

The county planning and zoning board voted 4-2 last week to recommend the rezoning of a 12-acre site in northeast Paulding to allow the nonprofit Friends to the Forlorn Pitbull Rescue Inc. to build a new 30,000-square-foot building to house up to 60 dogs.

The Paulding County Board of Commissioners could consider it at its Dec. 13 meeting. Commissioner Tony Crowe, whose district includes the site off Dallas-Acworth Highway, said Friends director Jason Flatt and neighbors opposing the expansion made good points during their presentations to the board.

“This is a hard one for me,” Crowe said.

Both sides of the issue crowded the county government meeting room in Dallas last week as Flatt told planning board members at the Watson Government Building he never had complaints about his four-year-old nonprofit on Isabella Path.

The nonprofit, which includes two residential structures, operates as a “halfway house” for an average of 25 rescued pitbull dogs before they are adopted.

The nonprofit operates a secure facility with an eight-foot, nine-gauge fence anchored in concrete enclosing its outdoor dog pen, Flatt said.

Friends also has paid to spay and neuter 3,000 pitbulls, and other dog breeds and cats, which reduces the number of stray animals in the county, Flatt said.

Veterinarian Dr. Clayton Leathers of New Hope Animal Hospital said Flatt was receiving “hopeless” pitbulls and training them to be domestic pets.

Flatt also was an "asset" to the county because of the services he offered which saves the county government the cost of euthanizing more animals.

“Whether you like this or not, you should support him,” Leathers said.

Neighbors — represented by attorney Glen Stinson — said the nonprofit appeared to be out of compliance with zoning laws and housed many animals which were dangerous because they were trained to fight before being rescued.

Stinson said he believed the nonprofit was a business and the law only allows privately-owned dogs to be housed in a residential zone.

“He’s asking you to do something he’s already doing,” Stinson said.

He also said Flatt wanted to “spot zone” the site to allow construction of a kennel not allowed in a residential zone.

Planning director Chris Robinson responded that “spot zoning” typically occurs when the uses allowed on a requested property are “totally different” from what is allowed in a surrounding area. He said residential zoning allows many of the same accessory structures, such as chicken coops.

Frank Bogdan, a resident of nearby Jarrell Road, said his objections included Flatt's planned construction of a 30,000-square-foot building in a residential area.

He also said many of those at the meeting supporting Flatt will not be dealing with the anticipated ill effects from construction of such a building because they did not live in the area.

County officials at the meeting said Flatt will be required to comply with agricultural zoning requirements if approved, such as a provision for all buildings to be at least 200 feet from the nearest property line. He also will be required to file a site plan different from what planners saw that will show a different location of buildings, they told planners and county commissioners at the meeting.

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