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Permit approved for pet day care, boarding business

OBSERVER photo by M.J. Stafford The site of a pet training, day care and boarding business at 9620 Farel Road, near Route 20, is pictured.

Fredonia’s Zoning Board of Appeals recently approved, with conditions, a special use permit for a pet training, day care and boarding business at 9620 Farel Road near Route 20.

James Oakes sought the permit for a 100-by 60-foot pole barn, with a parking area for eight to 10 cars and a garage for maintenance equipment. He needed the permit because the site is in an agricultural/ residential zoning district.

“Eventually we’ll maybe have a grooming area. We have a kitchen in there for anything we need to do for the food,” Oakes told the board at a May 4 hearing held via Zoom.

Oakes added that there would be separate play areas for big and small dogs, with lots of outdoor space for the canines. “There will be plenty of room for dogs to play and roam and go home happy,” he said.

ZBA members peppered Oakes with questions. He said his immediate goal was ” day care and boarding. Once we get established and in, some grooming and other things.”

When board member Michaelene Comerford asked what those things would be, he replied, “Possibly retail, eventually. We could do transporting of dogs from day care to kennel. I don’t know what else, actually.”

Oakes said the number of employees “depends on how many dogs we have. Everything I’ve looked at says you should have at least one employee for 10 dogs.”

Right now, he’s the only employee — but he promised he would have friends and family helping him as he starts up.

There are 16 kennels planned, with a “cat hotel” separate from the kennels in case people want to board their felines. Hours of operation for the day care will be 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday. Oakes promised he would have camera monitors and a notification service to alert him of any issues with boarded animals after hours.

Kate and David Morrison, who live across the street from where the business will be located, expressed objections to its siting.

Kate Morrison said she was concerned about traffic due to its proximity with a Route 20 intersection. She was also worried about storm water drainage. David Morrison said the driveway for the business would be a distraction for traffic in the area.

The couple bought their property because there was farmland around it, Kate Morrison said.

“Had there been a building, we would have walked away,” she said, adding, “It’s nothing personal … but we feel very strongly that this is not a good intersection for any business, to be honest.”

Board President David Fridmann later listed conditions he wanted in place for the permit to go forward. He wanted the property inspected every other year by code enforcers to make sure the business stays up to code. He said there should be a mandated pet-to-employee ratio of no more than 10-to-one, an external waste container and that Oakes’ final submitted architectural drawings must comply with the plan he has laid out so far.

Oakes said he had no objection to the conditions.

“We’ve had people very interpretive about what we’ve done. I don’t appreciate it and I don’t expect it,” Fridmann warned.

When the permit came up for a vote, Comerford was the only ZBA member to vote “no.”

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