Supervisors to consider lower fee for private kennels

The Board of Supervisors will take up a pair of pooch-related proposals at its Jan. 13 meeting.

The board will hold a public hearing on a proposed ordinance that would lower the application fee for a special exception from the Board of Zoning Appeals for a “private kennel” – the ability to keep three or more dogs, more than four months old, for private use on residentially zoned property – from $1,000 to $100.

But, before the public hearing, the panel will consider whether to set a public hearing on an ordinance amendment that would remove the “private kennel” definition from the special exceptions provisions, and instead require conditional use approval from the Planning Commission and supervisors for the keeping of three dogs and the keeping of four to nine dogs. The conditional use fees would be $250 for the keeping of three dogs and $1,000 for the keeping of four to nine dogs.

Glenn Larson, assistant director of the county’s Department of Planning and Zoning, said the department put together a memorandum for the Board of Supervisors containing background information on the issue in April. During the summer, the board directed the Planning Commission to consider reducing the fee for private kennels, he said.

“That’s how the whole process was initiated,” he said.
Ted Barclay, the county’s code compliance supervisor, said enforcement was handled through a complaint process, and dog-related enforcement actions could be “really difficult.”

“It is one of the most difficult things we deal with, because people are very attached to their dogs,” Barclay said.

A lower fee for keeping more than two dogs would make things easier for the enforcement department, since a $100 or $250 fee might be more palatable or doable for owners than a $1,000 fee, he said. But, if the fee is low enough more cases will be created, meaning more work for the planning staff, he said.

The supervisors now have two proposals before them because the commission “really wanted to go a different way” than just reducing the application fee for the special exception, Larson said. The commission opted to recommend denial of the special exception fee reduction, and instead suggested an alternative proposal that would require the keeping of three or more dogs, or four to nine dogs, to receive conditional use approval.

At the Planning Commission’s Dec. 15 meeting, Chairman Russell J. Gulley said the conditional use process would allow applicants to state their case twice, to both the commission and the Board of Supervisors, rather than once to the Board of Zoning Appeals.

“I believe the conditional use process would allow this issue to be better vetted, going through the commission and going through the Board of Supervisors, than the special exception process,” Gulley said.

The commission approved the ordinance in a 3-2 vote, with Bermuda District Member Sam R. Hassen and Matoaca District Member F. Wayne Bass in dissent.

“I’m still of the opinion that we should not be lowering the fee and encouraging more of these private kennels in residential areas,” Hassen said.

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