Rappahannock News

Planners recommend special exception permit for proposed Amissville dog training business

- B J I

“ e location is not the right kind of location”: Several residents of nearby Cabin Lane spoke against the proposal, citing potential noise, tra c, dog waste and worries about a kennel.

The Rappahanno­ck County Planning Commission on Wednesday heard opposition to allowing a dog training business on agricultur­al land in Amissville, but ultimately decided after a public hearing to recommend approval of a special use permit for its constructi­on.

The Board of Zoning appeals will ultimately decide whether to grant the permit and approve the developmen­t after holding its own public hearing in the near future.

Charlotte Wagner, who has operated a dog training business in Warrenton, applied for a permit to use 22 acres of land zoned agricultur­al at 14397 Lee Hwy. for her enterprise dubbed “K9ology.”

She signed a purchase and sale agreement to buy the land from former Stonewall-Hawthorne Supervisor Chris Parrish for $450,000. There is a March 8 closing date on the sale. Parrish had opposed an earlier proposal by Wagner to build her business on a site at Forest Grove and Richmond Roads, citing the potential for unwanted vehicle traf-fic, the amount of land that would be cleared, the size of the buildings and its location in a residentia­l area.

She’s proposed to put up on the land an o ce building, another building for classes, two outdoor fenced areas and a parking lot. The o ce building was added to her initial applicatio­n since an existing barn was found to have dry rot and is not suitable for use.

Several residents of Cabin Lane, located near the proposed site, spoke against the proposal at the public hearing, citing potential noise, tra c, dog waste disposal, and the possibilit­y of the business adding overnight dog boarding in the future.

Opposition started to gel between Christmas and New Year’s. Janet Davidson, a Cabin Lane resident, said residents met then to discuss the proposal. For her part, Davidson told the Planning Commission members that she realizes that nothing can stay the same but that “this is not the right change” and “the location is not the right kind of location.”

“I don’t see this bringing anything good to the county. I don’t see this as being a good thing,” said Cabin Lane resident Marjorie Nicodemus.

“I believe in what she wants to do. It is the location and the aesthetics. They are my biggest concern,” she added later during a phone interview.

The operators of Narmada Winery, adjacent to the proposed dog training site, also opposed the applicatio­n a er initially supporting it.

A winery representa­tive, Alexander Dias, said that a er further study the winery operators had concerns about possible runo of dog feces, noise and the e ect on events like weddings that the winery hosts.

In reply to concerns expressed from the Cabin Lane residents that her business would use that way for to and from access Wagner said, “We have never discussed an access on Cabin Lane.” She added the facility wouldn’t be within sight of the street’s residents. Dog waste will be stored in a wood and wire enclosed compost heap and then used as fertilizer on the property.

“The reality is the size of the facility that they have is double what my business can take. At least my people are sober,” Wagner said of Narmada.

Her attorney, Michael Brown, rose and said, “there seems to be misunderst­anding” about what was proposed. “I urge the planning commission members to return to the applicatio­n” and use what’s stated there in making a decision. He also said there are four businesses offering either dog boarding, grooming or training already operating in the county along with a veterinary practice — all in areas zoned for agricultur­e.

Planning Commission Chair Keir Whitson, also Hampton District member of the Rappahanno­ck County Board of Supervisor­s, noted that the county’s zoning language is perhaps “imprecise and has a slightly clumsy de nition” by pairing “kennel/dog training center” as an allowed use when in this case the applicatio­n is solely for a dog training center.

Brown picked up on that comment and said that opponents “jumped to the assumption” that a kennel is planned. “It’s not the case that it can morph into something else,” Brown said.

Chris Bird of Hampton District and Dabney Kirchman of Sperryvill­e both spoke in favor of the applicatio­n. Bird said that he’s used Wagner’s training services. He attested that she keeps her word and is an asset to the community. Kirchman said she’s also been a client of Wagner’s and that she wishes for such a facility closer to her home.

In approving the motion to recommend approval, the planning commission added conditions that there not be overnight boarding of dogs, and that Cabin Lane can’t be used by the business.

A limit of 20 customers per day, 20 dogs per day with no more than 10 at any one time was also recommende­d.

Hours of operation should be 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. weekdays and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday. Fencing should also be placed around the dog training building and parking lot.

The motion to recommend approval to the BZA was supported by Mary Katherine Ishee, Piedmont District,

Stephanie Ridder, BZA representa­tive, Brian Scheulen, Wakefield District, Gary D. Light, Stonewall-Hawthorne District, and Whitson.

Alvin Henry, Hampton District, and Rick Kohler, Jackson District, recused themselves from participat­ing in the discussion and roll call vote on Wagner’s applicatio­n. Kohler is the listing agent on the sale of the property. Henry said that businesses he’s affiliated with did some work for the applicant in the last 30 days and that while he does not believe there was a conflict of interest, he recused himself for the sake of transparen­cy.

The board also decided its organizati­onal structure as it does every year. The members voted to retain Whitson as chairman and Light as vice chairman.


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