Dog kennel permit up for review, hearing

FRONT ROYAL – A Warren County dog kennel destroyed by fire in March faces increased scrutiny as officials consider the fate of its operating permit.

The Planning Commission set a public hearing Jan. 10 for Wendy Tenney’s conditional-use permit that allows her to run a commercial dog kennel on her property at 63 Limeton Church Road. Planning Director Taryn Logan said Monday the commission can either consider revoking or making changes to the conditions in the permit. The commission discussed the permit at a recent work session. Logan said she expects the department to draft a set of conditions for the commission to consider at the hearing. The commission will then forward any recommendation it makes to the supervisors.

An electric space heater shorted and caused fire in the kennel that destroyed the building in March. More than a dozen Australian shepherds perished in the fire, according to information provided by the county. Logan expressed her condolences in a letter to Tenney but also noted that the department had a documented pattern of non-compliance in addressing the general health and welfare of her animals. However, Tenney rebutted Logan’s claim, stating she had no documentation of any notification that she had violated the terms of her permit. Tenney went on to state that department staff indicated on several occasions that she had met the terms of the permit.

The county issued Tenney’s permit to run the commercial kennel on Nov. 20, 2012. Earlier this year, animal control officers visited the property to review the kennel’s conditions after receiving complaints from neighbors. Officers found safety problems related to the welfare of the dogs including housing, hygiene and non-compliance with Warren County for licenses. Officers also noted they saw a space heater in the kennel with frayed wiring due possibly to dogs chewing on the cord. Planning Department staff made follow-up visits and found the permit borderline compliant or non-compliant.

The department sent Tenney a violation notice that she received Aug. 31 giving her 60 days to provide reasons in writing why the county should not terminate the permit.

Tenney claimed that all current reports in her possession found that the permit was in compliance. Tenney has said she would work with the Planning Department and the commission to maintain the permit.

The Planning Department asked the Board of Supervisors to revoke Tenney’s previously approved conditional-use permit for non-compliance of the included conditions. Instead, supervisors agreed at their  Nov. 8 meeting after hearing from Tenney about the situation, to refer the matter to the Planning Commission for further review.

The county code requires that the commission hold a public hearing before revoking or making any changes to the conditions of a permit. Logan suggested then that the commission hold a hearing before it makes any recommendations regarding the permit to the Board of Supervisors.

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