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Neighbors bark 'foul' over dog day-care business planned for North Yarmouth

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Neighbors bark 'foul' over dog day-care business planned for North Yarmouth

NORTH YARMOUTH — Neighbors are appealing the Planning Board's decision last month to approve a dog day-care business at a home on North Road. The appeal will be heard by the Zoning Board of Appeals Wednesday, July 22.

Herb and Ellen Hopkins, whose property abuts the approved business, are primarily concerned about the noise they expect from up to 10 dogs that will be in their neighbor's barn from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. during the week. The barn Jessica and Justin Dyer plan to turn into their dog day care is about 500 feet from the Hopkins' front door, visually separated by woods in the summer.

The Hopkins are also worried about the environmental impact of the business' waste on their wells and the Royal River, which runs a few hundred feet behind the properties, as well as the impact on their property value.

During the June Planning Board process to approve the business, the Hopkins' said they felt their concerns went unheard – even though they were allowed to speak – and that the board moved too quickly while many questions, such as how dog waste would be disposed of, went either unanswered or were never put in writing.

The dog day-care business is allowed in the Farm and Forest Zone, and was approved after site plan review in the form of a conditional use permit. But the Hopkins feel that because the business is on a small lot surrounded by homes, it is not appropriate.

"We don't want to discourage home business," Herb Hopkins said. "We just don't think this is the time or place for it. Yes, it's allowed in this zone, but is it ideal for this property?"

Hopkins said that had the Planning Board had a site walk, members would have come to the same conclusion. Hopkins has gathered signatures from residents in the neighborhood, and said he will present them Wednesday with his appeal.

Jessica Dyer said Tuesday that though her neighbors are concerned about business in their residential neighborhood, many of their questions – especially regarding noise – have already been answered through the Planning Board process.

Dogs will spend most of their time in the large barn, which Dyer said has been soundproofed and insulated. A small outside play area she plans to create will be surrounded by a landscaped buffer, and she has purchased sonic bark collars in case any dogs are a nuisance. Dogs that require the collar, she said, will not be welcomed back.

Although Dyer is not trained in the care of dogs, she said she'll have help from a friend and neighbor who is trained as a dog breeder and obedience trainer.

"I lost my job, I can't have kids, and I have this big 30 by 40 (foot) barn I'm paying taxes on with no use," Dyer said. "I'm trying to make use of the resources I do have to create income."

"I feel really bad (about the conflict)" Dyer continued, "I would like the chance to explain it to (the neighbors). I'm just trying to support our home, not trying to be a nuisance."

Dyer said her business will not be a kennel, and that dogs will only be at the home during the day while most of her neighbors are at work. "(The Hopkins) have their dog out on a chain, and it barks all day. We're trying to avoid that for people," she said, by entertaining dogs during the day "so owners can enjoy their dogs without having to exercise them."

That, however, is exactly what the Hopkins are worried about.

"The idea is that the dogs play all day and go home nice and quiet," Hopkins said, "but here, we hear them play all day. We came to North Yarmouth for our own land, peace and quiet. So far, it has been ideal."

The Hopkins will present their case armed with a similar dispute in Illinois that ruled in favor of abutters, as well as several ways they say the approved business goes against the Comprehensive Plan's discussion of conditional use permits and the impact on neighbors.

That meeting is open to the public, and well be held in the downstairs meeting room of the town office starting at 7 p.m.

Sarah Trent can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 108 or strent@theforecaster.net.