Kennel permit revocation proceeds through civil court

FRONT ROYAL – The fate of a dog kennel that burned down will be decided by Warren County Circuit Court Judge Clay Athey.

Wendy Tenney’s kennel at 63 Limeton Church Road burned down in a March 2017 fire that resulted in the death of 12 Austrailian shepherds.

The Board of Supervisors in April revoked the kennel’s conditional use permit, citing a history of non-compliance with conditions, failure to purchase dog tags, not purchasing a business license, and non-payment of taxes for the sale of puppies.

Michael Sharpe, Tenney’s lawyer, asked last week that Athey overturn the decision. His reasoning was that the decision should have been made by the Board of Zoning Appeals, not the Board of Supervisors. He added that the history of non-compliance was not proven.

County Attorney Dan Whitten filed a demur, asking that the decision be upheld because Sharpe’s claims have no validity.

He noted that the Board of Supervisors had authority to revoke the permit based on the state code.

Sharpe said while the state code does allow this, it is not stated in the county code. Whitten rebutted that the state code allows the party that granted a conditional use permit the ability to revoke it, which is a “self-executing statute” that does not need to be listed in the county’s code.

Alleged violations of the conditional use permit include that Tenney was negligent in replacing a damaged space heater; she did not comply with bark suppression requirements; the kennel was constructed without certain electrical and building permits; failure to keep the kennel clean; and non-purchase of dog tags.

Athey said during a demur hearing any disputed facts must be undeniably true for him to make a decision. Since that is not the case, he said it would likely be best to hold a summary judgment.

The matter will return to court at 1 p.m. Jan. 3.