Board OKs kennel permit, hears concerns
WOODSTOCK – Shenandoah County plans to revisit its new rules on kennels after some dog owners called the regulations unfair.
An effort to keep a couple from opening a kennel in the Toms Brook area resulted in the county quickly adopting the new regulations. Aaron and Stephanie Tabor then had to go through the special-use permit application process. The Planning Commission held a public hearing on the permit and, after hearing concerns from neighbors, voted to recommend that the Board of Supervisors deny the request.
Supervisors instead voted 5-1 at their regular meeting Tuesday to grant the permit. Conditions include the requirement that the Tabors plant trees as a buffer and that they either install a kennel septic system or transport waste offsite. Noise near the property shall not exceed 60 decibels. Applicants also must limit the number of dogs to 20, not including puppies.
Supervisors met in closed session earlier in the meeting to receive legal advice from County Attorney Jason Ham concerning the Tabors’ request. The board came out of closed session and voted on the permit. District 5 Supervisor Marsha Shruntz, who represents the Toms Brook area, voted against approving the request, citing the neighbors’ concerns and the Planning Commission’s recommendation.
Woodstock attorney Paul J. “Jay” Neal Jr. represented the Tabors. Neal said Wednesday he’s relieved by the outcome and noted that the ongoing discussion about the kennel rules likely no longer involve his client.
But about a half-dozen residents told the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday that the county needs to rescind a rule members adopted late last year that defines kennels as any establishment in which five or more canines or hybrids are kept for the purpose of breeding, hunting, training, renting, buying, boarding, selling or showing. The county also removed kennels as allowed by right on agriculturally zoned property and requiring a special use permit for such an operation.
Barbara Salisbury, operator of the Dominion Farm Pet B&B outside Forestville, said Wednesday the regulations approved by supervisors in December might not affect her operation, which has housed up to 35 dogs. Salisburg was one of several people who spoke about the regulations. But she still had concerns about the regulations that lump her business into the same category as canine rescues and breeding operations. A farmer who uses five or more dogs to protect livestock also would fall into the kennel definition, Salisbury said.
The Tabors applied for a special-use permit to operate the kennel for their Rottweiler show dogs and the business of breeding the animals for public sale. The Tabors ran a similar kennel in Warren County and moved to Shenandoah County with the intent of continuing the business at 2546 Mt. Olive Road. The couple does business as Von Herrschaft Rottweillers LLC.
The Tabors bought the 7.8-acre property Nov. 16, 2015. However, while the sale was in progress, Jeff Boyer, an adjacent neighbor at 2624 Mt. Olive Road, filed a request to change the county zoning ordinance by removing the by-right use of kennels in agriculture and conservation districts and requiring new kennels to first obtain a special-use permit. The Board of Supervisors approved the changes on Dec. 8.
Zoning and Subdivision Administrator Joyce Fadeley said Wednesday that she warned the Planning Commission when it held the hearing on the kennel regulations to hold off on approving the ordinance “because of the unintended consequences.” County officials didn’t have the opportunity to research kennel regulations aside from some information Fadeley was able to gather on how other localities regulate kennels. The commission recommended adoption of the new regulations anyway. Supervisors then voted in favor of the new rules, with Supervisors Steve Baker and John R. “Dick” Neese opposing the action in favor of giving the regulations more review.
“There was very little review because (of) the time that the request was made and that all of the things that transpired from that point up to the meeting,” Fadeley said. “I didn’t have the time to really commit to a thorough study because that takes months.”
The county faces certain deadlines when it receives a citizen-initiated ordinance or code change, primarily for the advertisement of public hearings and to send out notices, Fadeley said. The zoning administrator also must submit such filings to the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors.
December also posed a challenge because the Board of Supervisors met only once that month. Usually the board doesn’t take action on a Planning Commission hearing item until its night meeting held three weeks later.
Fadeley said she typically wouldn’t advise anyone to change an ordinance and then make more revisions so soon after the fact but in this case it might be appropriate.
Fadeley said that the commission’s code review committee revisited the kennel ordinance in February and likely will continue its discussion in the near future. The committee probably will forward its findings to the full commission who then will send along any recommendations to the supervisors, she said.
Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or firstname.lastname@example.org