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Exception for kennel plan OK'd
By Duane Good, EDITOR

UPPER PAXTON TWP. • The township Zoning Hearing Board, April 7, voted unanimously to grant a zoning ordinance Special Exception to resident John E. Riehl, who had applied to build and operate a commercial kennel for the breeding and sale of dogs.

Approval of an exception was necessary because the proposed kennel is in a portion of the township zoned as Agricultural.

Riehl is required to operate under state Department of Agriculture regulations for commercial kennels, and he also has not submitted a land development plan to the township as of this time.

As of press time April 13, the Sentinel could not confirm whether Riehl has applied for license.

Although many people who attended the hearing expressed displeasure at the board’s ruling, the newspaper also has not received any confirmation of a legal challenge, also as of April 13.

The board’s April 7 hearing was the second on the topic of Riehl’s exception request.

Riehl had made his original application in late 2014. His request was the topic of an initial ZHB hearing March 10. The board scheduled a second hearing after consulting with its solicitor and decided that it needed more time to review testimony presented at the initial session.

As reported previously in the Sentinel, the proposed 4,280 square-foot structure would include space for:

• Fifteen whelping pens, each 6-by-8 feet in size.

• Three puppy pens, each 10 feet, eight inches-by 12 feet in size; and three outside runs, each 10’8”-by-24 feet in size.

• Six  14-by-14 foot dog pens; and seven 14-by-20 outside runs.

An office and washroom/restroom facilities also are included in the building proposal.

Heat and air-conditioning will be part of the facility, according to Riehl’s application, which is on file at the township office. The application also states that the building will include a concrete foundation and floor; wood frame; and metal roof and siding; flooring for the outside run areas will be rubber matting.

At the March 10 hearing, Riehl said he planned to breed and sell golden retrievers. He also testified that a maximum of 60 to 65 would be on the property at one time. He added that he planned to abide by the proper standards for commrcial kennel construction, amenities and operation.

Several people testified at the first hearing in objection to Riehl’s proposal.

Six conditions attached. As in March, the April 7 hearing was held at Grace United Methodist Church. Last week’s meeting was strongly attended; in addition to several residents, representatives of the groups Paws for a Cause (a locally based animal-welfare organization) and PACK (People Against Commercial Kennels) also were in the audience.

Noting that the ZHB had received numerous documents on the kennel top, board solicitor Michael Crocenzi recommended that accepting into the record only those documents that would be considered legal memorandums (i.e. documents based on testimony given on record at the March 10 initial hearing).

‘‘I recommend not considering them; they would be considered inadmissiable hearsay,’’ he told the board.

Crocenzi’s recommendation drew vocal objections by some of the audience. Further objections were raised when the ZHB stated that the only issue on the table was whether Riehl’s exception request met, or failed to meet, the standards set by the township.

In response, Crocenzi said, ‘‘If we continue to have these outbursts, you will be asked to leave.’’

During its discussion of Riehl’s request, ZHB members Laura Phillips (chairman), David Fralick and Michael Clark (substituting for S. Kirk Miller) decided to attach the following six conditions:

• Dogs could not be anywhere on the property lacking adequate grass cover.

• Dogs would be permitted outside only between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m.

• Riehl must submit a dog waste management plan in writing to the township.

• No more than 20 breeding females are permitted on site at one time. (Several audience members stood and applauded this recommendation.)

• Landscaping must be established on site to serve as a barrier against excessive sound and odors emanating to neighboring properties.

• Disposal of any carcasses must be off-site.

After confirming the six conditions, ZHB members Phillips, Fralick and Clark voted to approve Riehl’s exception request. Again, there was numerous negative reaction from audience members.


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