By Alex Bridges
FRONT ROYAL -- A dog breeder can run a kennel at her Warren County home but she must abide by rules officials set this week.
The Board of Supervisors voted 5-0 on Tuesday to approve a request for a conditional-use permit to operate a commercial kennel at 63 Limeton Church near Bentonville and U.S. 340.
Wendy Tenney breeds Australian shepherds, registered with the American Kennel Club, and she told the board she currently has 10 such dogs. County officials required Tenney to obtain the permit in order to operate such a business on the agriculturally zoned property in the South River Magisterial District.
The permit limits the kennel to 11 dogs, aged 6 months or older, one of which can be held as a breeding canine. The permit requires Tenney to use cleaning and disinfectant solutions approved by the Warren County Environmental Health Department. Tenney must install a concrete floor for the external kennel run area within one year of the permit's approval. She must install a fence of no less than 6-feet tall within six months of the permit approval. Within three months, Tenney must install an approved septic system for the kennel. The permit also requires Tenney to use a bark suppression system on all adult dogs.
Supervisors required that the county check on Tenney's kennel in six months to see if the operation complies with the permit conditions.
The board held a public hearing on the request. Stephens City resident Michael Hansen, who owns property near the kennel, told supervisors the waste creates a bad odor and the dogs bark constantly.
Tenney refuted Hansen's statements about the barking. Tenney explained that she has to get rid of the waste by taking it in bags to the landfill.
County staff made a site visit to the property in late August, according to Planner Matt Wendling. Since then Tenney has made progress in cleaning up the property and in the renovation and maintenance of the kennel, Wendling said.
Staff tried to come up with solutions to handle the non-point source pollution created by the runoff from the kennel. As Wendling explained, the runoff naturally travels to a swale located to the rear of the property.
In response to concerns raised about the noise created by barking dogs, and the odor from animal waste, Tenney told the board about her efforts to control both issues. Instead of bark collars that may have limited effectiveness, Tenney showed the board a device that, when triggered by barking dogs, sends a signal to the dogs that only they can hear. The signal is supposed to suppress the barking, Tenney explained. The device covers an area of up to several hundred feet, she said.
Board Vice Chairwoman Linda Glavis, who represents South River, first made a motion to approve the permit request excluding a requirement that Tenney obtain and install a septic system to handle the animal waste. That motion failed to gain a second after two supervisors expressed concerns about the waste and runoff from the kennel and running area.
A proposed amendment to the county code seeks to define "commercial kennel" as a "place equipped and used to house, board, breed, handle, train, show, groom or otherwise care for five or more dogs, in exchange for compensation, trade, barter or other commercial gain." Board Chairman Archie Fox questioned whether the county had "put the cart before the horse" by approving a conditional-use permit for a kennel ahead of changing the code to define such an operation. Planning Director Taryn Logan told the board the permit as approved includes conditions similar to those placed on other permits. Wendling said the code amendment would help consolidate the conditions put on permits.
Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or firstname.lastname@example.org