A plumbing crisis had flooded her home, Lydia Moll testified, and she was frantically trying to clean when a Cherokee County marshal showed up to investigate a complaint.
“It was a nightmare mess,” Moll said of that March 11, 2016 day.
The marshal noted the mess, as well as dozens of animals – dogs in cages and cats in pens. Moll got a cease-and-desist letter from the county zoning administrator, saying kennels aren’t allowed in R-80 zoning districts. The Zoning Board of Appeals agreed.
Moll appealed to the Board of Commissioners. Her defense: Her unlicensed kennel predates the zoning.
According to testimony, Moll moved to South Cherokee Lane near Woodstock and started raising dogs and cats to breed, show and sell in 1968. Unknown to her, her attorneys say, Cherokee adopted a zoning ordinance in 1969.
For nearly 50 years, Moll bred award-winning animals – most recently, Yorkshire terriers and Maltese – and no officials noticed.
“You have a business here for 50 years, run by very reputable lady, better than the animal shelter in Holly Springs … and we’re trying to zone her out?” resident Robert Wassel asked county commissioners at a recent public hearing.
Moll, 71, wants her kennel grandfathered in as a nonconforming use. But she’s unable to prove it dates to 1968. Nobody – not the county, state, American Kennel Club or Cat Fanciers Association – has records of her business going back that far.
“I’m sure Ms. Moll is an excellent keeper of animals,” Commissioner Ray Gunnin said. “(But) this is not in compliance with zoning … (and) the evidence is not there how long the business has been here.”
The County Board may decide the issue on Aug. 15.
Should Moll get a break, or should the law prevail? Tell us what you think. Send comments to email@example.com. Responses may be used online and/or in print and maybe edited for length and/or clarity.
Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.
Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.