The Planning Board plans to continue discussions of possible ordinance provisions that would allow commercial kennels.
“I think it’s just something for the board to consider,” said Building Inspector Richard Canuel at the board’s May 1 meeting. “There really is no urgency, but we don’t currently have any provisions in our ordinance that address kennels as a commercial business.”
Canuel said this arose because of “the unfortunate result of someone who came to develop a kennel here in town last year and was denied a variance by our Zoning Board because basically it’s not a permitted use listed in our ordinance.” Canuel was referring to a Sandown family’s request for a variance to build a kennel on Route 102. Paul Soucy of Sandown and his son Jeremy appeared before the Zoning Board on April 25, 2012 in a continued case from March 21, 2012 to seek a variance to allow a commercial dog kennel at 296 and 300 Nashua Road (Route 102), zoned C-II and in the Route 102 Performance Overlay District.
Developer Tony Masetti, who was building an over-55 housing complex adjacent to the parcel in question, alleged at the time that the kennel would have generated too much noise and would lower property values. “I certainly think the ordinance warrants some provisions that deal with commercial kennels,” Canuel said at the May 1 Planning Board meeting.
Planning Board Chairman Arthur Rugg asked if Canuel saw the need for handling the situation with a conditional permit, and Canuel responded by saying that was one of his suggestions.
“Looking at the ordinance today, if I were to classify a kennel as a commercial business, the closest use I could attribute it to would be a service establishment,” Canuel said. “A kennel really doesn’t fit with those other uses that would qualify as service establishments, like a dry cleaner or a salon for example that you might see at Crossroads Mall or Apple Tree Mall.”
Canuel said it is a service related use and makes sense to allow it in commercial zones.
“Possibly the best way to handle it is through a conditional use permit,” he said. “That’s something the board could review and specific criteria could be established before approval is granted.”
Rugg said the board would need to have some flexibility. “You might not want to locate a dog kennel near a used car lot or in an industrial area – it just doesn’t go,” he said.
Rugg said the board should have discretion to work with an applicant to locate a kennel and secondly, the uses that surround the parcel should come into consideration.
“My proposal is to permit it in our Commercial II zoning district as well as our two overlay districts – the Routes 102/28 overlay – by conditional use permit only, and to amend the ordinance to include that as one of the permitted uses by conditional permit only,” Canuel said.
Canuel said another suggestion is to allow commercial kennels by right in the Industrial I zone because of the nature of a kennel and its attendant noise and odors.
Board member Lynn Wiles said he was interested in size and didn’t want a “puppy mill” in Londonderry, and asked if it would be through ordinance or conditional use that the issue would be addressed. Canuel said that would be up to the board.
“I think that would be a good reason to allow them by conditional use permit only,” Canuel said. Board member Laura El-Azem suggested removing the word ‘breeding’ from the ordinance in order to allay Wiles’ concerns. She said she liked the conditional use suggestion for the Industrial I zone. Board member Leitha Reilly said puppies could be bred and dropped off at a few weeks old and the kennel wouldn’t technically be breeders.
Board member Mary Wing Soares suggested looking at Derry’s ordinance for guidance but Canuel said he had done just that. “I didn’t see any provisions in there,” he said.
Board member Maria Newman asked about state regulations and Canuel said he wasn’t sure what the state required. When board member Chris Dane expressed concern about allowing a commercial kennel in an AR I zone, Canuel said the permitted use is not listed in the ordinance so it becomes a non-permitted use. “So if you list specifically in the table of uses where we want a commercial kennel, then it would only be in those zones,” Canuel explained.
Board member Scott Benson said most uses of a kennel would be for “doggie daycare or for people dropping off their dogs while they go on vacation.Canuel said he thinks the need exists and would like to have an ordinance in place before another developer comes in. It was the consensus of the board to schedule a workshop on the issue to determine criteria for the proposed ordinance.