Board listens to kennel comments

The Enterprise — Lisa Nicole Viers

Speaking with animation, Don Albright, of Unionville-Feura Bush Road, told the New Scotland Planning Board his concerns about noise and odors that could from a kennel in close proximity to his home.

The Enterprise — Lisa Nicole Viers

With a furrowed brow, Deborah Anderson spoke to the New Scotland Planning Board on Tuesday night about her concerns regarding a potential kennel on Unionville-Feura Bush Road. Anderson and her husband live on Delaware Turnpike, and both spoke at the three-hour-long meeting.

NEW SCOTLAND — One kennel permit was approved, and the other left hanging on Tuesday evening at the New Scotland Planning Board meeting.

Over 25 people attended — one of them cried — and many spoke passionately to the board, imploring it not to approve the proposed special use permit for a kennel at 425 Unionville-Feura Bush Road.

Stephen Ray and his wife were approved for a kennel on their 87 acre parcel on Price Lane. Lauren Bachner, however, had the public hearing left open for a kennel on the 7.4 acre parcel on Unionville-Feura Bush Road she is in the process of purchasing.

Rays’ kennel approved

Tuesday, several of the Rays’ neighbors brought forth concerns about noises and smells that could come from the kennel.

Ray is planning on composting the waste from the dogs, and said, “I have acres and acres… I was basically just gonna dig a hole…”

After much discussion, the board decided they would be more comfortable approving the application if the Rays were to take the waste off site with the trash rather than burying it on the property and possibly having it contaminate local water sources.

The Rays’ plan is to convert an existing building on their parcel at 109 Price Lane into space for up to 30 dogs, which the planning board knocked down to 20 as a conservative measure, saying the Rays could always come back to the board to have that number increased if their business does well and they would like to board more dogs.

The neighbors surrounding the Rays’ property were concerned about noises coming from the kennel, and asked about the noise ordinance in New Scotland.

Building Inspector Jeremy Cramer informed the public about the noise ordinance, which states that, “No person shall keep, permit or maintain any animal under his control that causes unreasonable or unnecessary noise by continued bark, howling, or making other animal noises that is continuous in excess of fifteen (15) minutes.”

The noise prohibition for animals applies at all hours of the day and night, unlike other ordinances that only apply after 11 p.m., for example.

Within a half hour of the meeting starting, the public hearing for the Rays’ proposal was closed, and, by 8 p.m., it was approved, with several conditions:

- The building must be adequately soundproofed so that noises from the kennel do not exceed 50 decibels at a distance of 100 feet from the building;

- Dogs are permitted outside only between the hours of 7 a.m. and 8 p.m.;

- A new well will need to be approved by the county;

- The kennel can house only 20 dogs, regardless of age;

- Food must be stored in metal containers;

- Outside pens must have screening to prevent the dogs from seeing each other, lessening the probability of barking; and

- Any kennel washout areas will be collected in a separate septic system specific to the kennel, which must be approved by the county.

Bachner to wait

After finishing up with the Rays’ special use permit, planning board chairman Charles Voss switched to Bachner’s proposal, opening with, “Now, what everyone’s been waiting for,” which received a chuckle from some meeting attendees.

Bachner and her lawyer gave a brief presentation regarding new information about soundproofing specifications, disposal of waste on the property, and closing access to Atwood Lane, which neighbors the property Bachner wants to put her kennel on, as well as other property specifications like lighting and wells.

First from the public to speak was Stephanie Ferradino, who was representing the Unionville West Homeowners’ Association — an organization that the neighbors just recently formed in direct response to Bachner’s permit to put a kennel in their neighborhood.

Ferradino said the special use being proposed was not “appropriate” for the site, and read from the town zoning law, arguing that the special use was “more objectionable to nearby properties… than the operation of any allowed use in the particular district.”

Ferradino’s interpretation was that special uses are not included in the phrase “allowed use” as stated in the law. However, Cramer does interpret the law as having special uses being included in allowed uses; they are allowed when they are approved, sometimes with conditions.

“I don’t think her interpretation was 100-percent correct,” he told The Enterprise on Wednesday.

“Conditions are added to minimize the impact on neighbors,” he added.

Nine different neighbors spoke against the permit, detailing fears about a multitude of topics, including property-value depreciation; the safety of grandchildren riding bicycles down Atwood Lane; the noise from barking dogs; and the potential of bacteria from animal waste getting into the local water supply, which isn’t plentiful, according to area residents.

“The serenity of the whole atmosphere will be lost,” one neighbor said.

“I’m here pleading that you people think about this as if you lived in the neighboring homes,” she implored the board.

Another neighbor, Shirley Albright of Unionville-Feura Bush Road, said to the board, “I hope you put yourself in our shoes.”

David Anderson, of Delaware Turnpike, spoke about “the character of our neighborhood,” to the board, mentioning the many historic sites in the area as well as long-standing multi-generation families that choose to continue living in their rural neighborhood.

Only one person who spoke before the board was in favor of the permit. Larry McMullen, a Loudenville resident, has been boarding his dog with Bachner at her Four Paws Inn location for many years.

“I have entrusted [my dog] to her for over 10 years,” he said, “She is one of the best women I know.”

The neighbors were not put off by the support for Bachner’s permit.

Don Haskal of Unionville-Feura Bush Road told the board he visited Bachner’s current location and spoke with neighbors; he claimed all of them said that the sound of barking dogs is something they have had to adjust to, living near a kennel.

Bachner and her lawyer stood before the board once more, and addressed each of the neighbors’ concerns in turn.

Bachner detailed the fencing that she would place on the property to surround all the outside runs individually as well as a perimeter around them, and discussed looking into a good way to expand the driveway to allow for two-way traffic on it.

When talking about noise, and neighbors seeing the dogs, Bachner said, “A lot of the concerns for the existing location [in Bethlehem] won’t carry over to the new location.”

She had told The Enterprise earlier that residents close to her Bethlehem kennel had not lodged compaints. (online at www.altamontenterprise.com)

After many of the neighbors gave their input on Bachner’s plans, board member Bob Stapf asked where they lived in relation to 425 Unionville-Feura Bush Road, where Bachner would like to have her kennel, and what kind and number of pets they had.

Many neighbors talked about their own dogs, noting that they bark at neighboring dogs and outdoor noises easily.

“I don’t see any lawsuits between anyone here with their dogs,” Stapf said, noting at least eight dogs in total mentioned by the neighbors as their personal pets.

Speaking with The Enterprise yesterday, Building Inspector Cramer also noted, “The animals are present in their own neighborhood already,” and that there were animals on the parcel previously.

“I could see either kennel fitting right in with the neighborhood over time, if done properly,” he said.

The board decided to leave the public hearing open for another month, and asked Bachner to provide additional information, particularly about site engineering, to the board by the next meeting.

“I think you definitely have some homework,” Voss said.

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