Plans for a dog daycare center on the southeast corner of Linden and Lahring Roads were rejected by the Fenton Township Planning Commission on Thursday April 14.
Allore Sharp of Fenton Township wants to build Ruffy Ranch Retreat at 13015 Linden Rd. She has applied for a special land use permit for a kennel with dog daycare, boarding, training and spa getaway. The land, currently vacant, is zoned agricultural.
“RRR will offer dog daycare, boarding, canine massage, spa services and obedience training. The canine training will be led by a police officer from the K-9 unit. Our mission is to love and care for every fur baby like ours, to provide a fun environment, yet a relaxing, stress-free getaway. RRR will also partner with Companion Animal Hospital, located half a mile down Linden Road,” according to Sharp’s letter of intent.
She submitted the application to the Fenton Township Planning Commission in 2021 and it was rejected on December 6. The commission decided that the proposed kennel was “not harmonious” in its design and use with the surrounding proposed single-family homes, and that the kennel would cause “substantial harm to the value of other properties in the neighborhood,” according to the lawsuit. minutes of the meeting.
Sharp purchased the property in October 2021 from Empyrean Group and agreed to certain deed restrictions including that the property is for single family dwellings and that manufactured or modular homes are not permitted, no farm animals, agriculture and more. Mike Davidson and Leo Serridano own the Empryean Group.
At the planning commission meeting on December 6, 2021, the original owner of the property, Leo Serridano, spoke against the request and mentioned that the deed restriction was placed on these properties to prevent commercial use.
Township Treasurer and Planning Commissioner John Tucker said the township does not enforce restrictions on deeds. It would be applied privately by the courts. He mentioned that a basis of determination is whether the use is in harmony with the surrounding properties.
Other owners have spoken out against approval of the special use permit due to noise and concerns about a decrease in the value of their properties. One said he withdrew his request to purchase land from Mike Davidson, owner of Fairways of Spring Meadows, because of the kennel.
The commission is currently reviewing Davidson’s preliminary site plan to build up to 70 homes in a subdivision just south of the proposed Ruffy Ranch Retreat location. Davidson spoke out against the kennel and expressed concern that the plaintiff was asking for an increase in the number of dogs allowed in the future.
This year Sharp submitted another permit with a modern style residential development. At the time of the last hearing on April 14, his claim includes 10 kennels and two paw pads, which is reduced from 34 kennels. The building would be 3,150 square feet. The living space, where Sharp would reside, would be 2,100 square feet and the kennel area would be 1,050 square feet.
Approximately 2 acres of land would be surrounded by an 8 foot privacy fence. For security reasons, the dogs would be separated by size and any anxious or temperamental canines would have access to private suites and enclosures. The proposed hours of operation were Monday through Friday 5 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
“I will use all necessary soundproofing modalities, additional insulation, ultrasonic devices, and enclose the perimeter with privacy fencing to further reduce any noise,” Sharp wrote.
Dog day care is permitted under zoning regulations for agricultural land. In the zoning administrators report, Michael Deem said the master plan classifies this area as single family residential and that “the intention of this future land use district is to provide single family residences on the larger lot sizes permitted to preserve open natural space. and retain a rural character.
Regulations for a commercial kennel in an agricultural zoning district include: licensing by the Genesee County Animal Control Department; Kennels housing dogs must be located at least three hundred (300) feet from a residential zoned neighborhood. The house is located 300 feet from the nearby R-3 zoning district. There is no outdoor kennel; All dog enclosures must be fenced and have a concrete surface; The applicant must identify an acceptable method of animal waste disposal; and the facility must meet the requirements of the Fenton Township Dog Control Ordinance.
At a March 10 meeting, several residents spoke in favor of Sharp’s plans and expressed doubts that the kennel would cause financial loss to adjacent properties. Will Stiverson of Fenton said in his experience with Adopt-A-Pet that they don’t get any noise complaints. The subject was tabled at this meeting so that Sharp could modify its plans to meet a step back requirement.
At the April 14 meeting, Commissioner Mark Mustola praised the rendering of the building and asked about the number of dogs. Sharp said she “couldn’t stipulate how many dogs in the community would need daycare on any given day,” according to draft minutes of the meeting. She would like to start at 10, but it could increase to 20 or more. The commission discussed setting a maximum number of dogs allowed.
Chairman James McGuirk said it was a commercial use introduced in a residential area and he could not vote in favor of the application. Commissioner Philip Lewis said the design of the house was in keeping with the area and the commission could subject the application to a one-year review. He indicated that he was in favor of the request.
Tucker said the use was not harmonious with the area given public comments from concerned neighbors opposed to the project.
“The Planning Commission has heard evidence that the proposed use has discouraged development on adjacent parcels,” according to a draft of the meeting minutes.
The vote was 5 to 1 to deny the request at the April meeting. Lewis was the dissenting vote.
A need for dog daycare
In its application, Sharp wrote that only one location in downtown Fenton would have been a competitor. They had reached their full capacity. Sharp wrote that due to a change in ownership, the company went out of business.
“I now get calls and emails regarding RRR membership, from their clientele. I offer a premium and luxurious retreat. I am diligent in creating a controlled, clean and soundproof structure for the animals in our community,” she said. “Currently, there are no other RRR-type businesses in or around the Fenton community. This Agricultural Designated Business could support the community for their pet needs.
She included a list of over 120 potential customers looking for dog daycare. Sharp wrote that she would live in the house, which would be more than 100 feet from the right-of-way.