Kennel request denied again

September 16, 2009|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

WASHINGTON COUNTY -- For the second time in 10 months, the county's zoning board rejected a request for a commercial dog kennel on Millers Church Road.

The board voted 4-1 Wednesday to deny Ruth H. Martin's request.

In November 2008, the board voted 5-0 against a special exception. Martin appealed.

Washington County Circuit Judge Daniel P. Dwyer ruled last month that the board had to deliberate again.

At issue was if the board considered the kennel's effect on the neighborhood or if the board only looked at the use of the property.

Dwyer ruled the board had to look at the area as a whole, unless the county ordinance allowed a focus on the best use of the land.


Board member Don Spickler said the ordinance lets the board look at "the most appropriate use of land and structure," but only as one of several factors.

Board members weren't sure that would rise to the standard set by Dwyer.

After several minutes of debate, Spickler moved that the board grant the special exception. It failed, 3-2.

Then, a separate motion to deny the request passed, 4-1.

Assistant County Attorney Kirk C. Downey noted that Martin still would have to get a kennel license if the request were approved.

Martin asked for authority to operate a commercial kennel for breeding and selling dogs on a 125-acre dairy farm at 21168 Millers Church Road, north of Leitersburg.

The land is zoned agricultural and requires a special exception for a kennel.

At a public hearing in October, Paul Miller, the executive director of the Washington County Humane Society, testified that he saw about 74 dogs on the property in 2007. He described it as a "puppy mill."

According to a "findings of fact" section in the board's 2008 opinion, Martin reported that she began keeping dogs as a hobby in the mid-1990s and it became a breeding and sales enterprise.

On Wednesday, board member Tom Oyster called it "basically, a shoddily run operation."

Bert Iseminger Jr., the board's chairman, said the commercial kennel didn't seem appropriate for any site.

William C. Wantz, Martin's attorney, declined to comment after Wednesday's vote.

How they voted

The Washington County Board of Zoning Appeals voted Wednesday on two motions connected to a special-exception request for a commercial dog kennel on Millers Church Road.

A motion to approve the request was defeated 3-2

Bert Iseminger Jr. no

Paula Lampton no

Tom Oyster no

Don Spickler yes

David Williams yes

A motion to deny the request was approved 4-1

Iseminger yes

Lampton yes

Oyster yes

Spickler no

Williams yes

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