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Board OKs rules for dog tethers

FRONT ROYAL – Warren County dog owners face stricter rules when they tie up their animals.

The Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to add a section to the county code that continues to allow tethering dogs and other canines under certain circumstances. But the new rules prohibit tethering dogs except with a tie appropriate to the age and size of the animal attached with a collar, halter or harness configured to prevent injuries. The Front Royal Town Council also plans to consider imposing similar rules though the county still handles animal control matters in the corporate limits.

All but one of the more than half-dozen people who spoke at the public hearing on the matter voiced support for the regulations.

The new rules require that the tether equal three times the length of the canine. The county prohibits the tethering when:

• The canine is 4 months old or younger.

• The dog is a female in estrus or in heat.

• The temperature is less than 32 degrees Fahrenheit or greater than 90 degrees unless the dog has adequate shelter.

• The tie is used for more than one dog.

• The tether weighs more than 10 percent of the dog’s body weight.

• The tether is used more than 12 hours in a 24-hour period on a cable run or four hours in 24 hours on a fixed tie.

Front Royal resident Alberto Medina urged the board to not approve the proposed regulations. Medina told the board that state code already defines and regulates the appropriate use of tethers in a way enforceable by animal control officers. The ordinance does not make a distinction between supervised and unsupervised tethering, Medina said.

The proposed ordinance should fall under care of companion animals by owner rather than cruelty to animals as county officials have indicated, Medina said. Regulating the maximum tether weight at 10 percent of the animal’s weight is arbitrary and capricious unless the number is scientifically defensible, Medina said. He noted that the proposed ordinance also does not take into consideration that tether training is an established practice used by dog trainers and warned that he rule would discourage service-dog training.

Also at the meeting, supervisors approved:

• A lease to Robert Metcalfe for hangar C-1 at the Front Royal-Warren County Airport for one year, from July 1 to June 30, 2018, with the option of four additional one-year terms. Metcalfe built a two-unit hangar at the airport in the 1990s and paid for the project, then signed a 25-year lease and paid $50 per month to rent unit C-1. The new lease calls for Metcalfe to pay $350 per month for the first year.

• A conditional-use permit requested by Gail Pulford and Ann Davis for a short-term tourist rental at 173 Apache Court in the Thunderbird Ranch subdivision

• Two conditional-use permits requested by Frank Brugh to operate a contractor’s storage yard on his property on Winner’s Circle off Fairground Road

• A conditional-use permit requested by Terry and Bess Keaton to operate a short-term tourist rental at 2892 Gooney Manor Loop

• A conditional-use permit requested by Michael and Linda Nicewarner for a guesthouse at 544 Jackson’s Chase Drive

• Changes to the county code to give the Board of Zoning Appeals more time to make a decision on a variance request.

• Changes to sections in the county code pertaining to notice requirements for zoning violations. State legislation that changes the requirements for a second notice of violation went into effect July 1. The 30-day period now starts when the violation notice is sent by registered mail to, or posted at, the last known address of the property owner or its registered agent. The last known address of the property owner is shown in Warren County real estate records while the address of the registered agent, if any, is listed in records with the State Corporation Commission.

• Changes to the county code to exempt tasting room equipment at farm wineries from taxation. The counties of Fauquier, Frederick, Page and Shenandoah impose a tax on equipment in tasting rooms. Albemarle, Clarke, Loudoun and Rappahannock counties do not charge the tax.

• A change to the county code to increase the threshold for the treasurer to issue refunds without supervisors’ approval from $1,000 to $2,500.

• A change to the county code to add the Bowling View subdivision to the list of designated neighborhoods in which shooting of firearms is prohibited. Bowling View, also known as Bowling Green South, includes 36 lots and 29 homes. Residents provided a petition signed by 24 of the 29 homeowners seeking inclusion in the list.

• The appointment of Mark Baker to the board of directors of the Front Royal-Warren County Economic Development Authority.

• Approved adding sections to the county code to create a board jointly with Front Royal that considers applications of towing operators wishing to be added to a list from which the Sheriff’s Office, the Front Royal Police Department and the Virginia state police can request services at the scene of an emergency or traffic incident.

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