Dunwoody residents soon may be able legally to keep more than three pets and to practice certain kinds of home occupations.

Removing the limit on pets and adding rules allowing some home businesses were among Dunwoody City Council’s most recent tweaks to the city’s rewrite of its zoning and development regulations. The rewrite, intended to make Dunwoody’s regulations reflect the desires of city residents, has been under way since early last year.

After debate Sept. 17 that touched on residents’ reactions to jobs such as teaching piano or giving swimming lessons, council members seemed to endorse an idea to divide home occupations into three areas – those with no employees or customer contact; education jobs that are conducted inside a home; and jobs with customer contact and employees or that involve lessons taught outside.

Home jobs in the third category, city officials said, would not be permitted unless issued a Special Land Use Plan, which requires notice to the neighbors and allows public discussion of the permit.

“For me, it’s an excellent compromise,” Councilman Terry Nall said.

Not everyone was convinced.

Councilman Denny Shortal argued Dunwoody citizens want residential areas to stay residential.

“You’re opening up a box I don’t think you want to open,” Shortal said. “I think folks want assurance when they buy a home in a residential area that they are going to stay in a residential area. … If we don’t protect the residential areas of this city, we might as well close up shop and walk out the door.”

Council members also seemed to agree to remove from the city’s zoning laws a rule that limits to three the number of pets in a Dunwoody home. That rule was picked up unchanged from the city’s existing zoning regulations, consultant Kirk Bishop, executive vice president of Duncan Associates of Chicago, told the council members.

“I’m uncomfortable telling people how many animals they can own,” Councilwoman Lynn Deutsch said.

“I think we all agree that if you’ve got a house with a gazillion cats, you’re got a problem,” Nall said. “I think we strike if from this particular version we give thought to how to address the nuisance factor.”

Joe Earle is Editor-at-Large. He has more than 30-years of experience with daily newspapers, including the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.