Print Edition Highlights - February 27, 2020
Dog training facility turned down
Staff Reporter/Dillsburg Banner
After six hours of testimony, Franklin Township supervisors unanimously denied the conditional use application for a dog training facility on Franklin Church Road.
After deliberating for 43 minutes, Vice-Chair Kevin Cummings summarized the reasons for the board’s denial. Among those reasons were that the facility continued to operate without a conditional use permit, that in the board’s opinion the training facility did not meet the right to farm act (which allows for some nuisance sounds and smells) and that not enough new information was presented to warrant changing the October denial. He also indicated that while the applicant’s previous facility in Fulton County did not operate under zoning, other applicants had done their due diligence before opening and operating anything that might require a conditional use permit. Cummings acknowledged that important points were raised by both sides. He indicated that the property owner, James Morrison Sr. and Jr., and Michael Marante, owner of European Working Dogs, had made some adjustments to sound reduction. He also noted that some of the facility’s “flaws” could be solved by setting conditions on its operation, but the board reported they “can’t set all the conditions that could arise” from the dog training facility.
John Baranski, attorney for the residents opposed to the facility, had five witnesses testify against the application at the hearing on February 19. Another resident testified on the first evening of the hearing on February 12. All the witnesses testified about the noise from the barking dogs. Most were also concerned about safety and property values.
Brandon Weaver, who lives 1300 feet from the main pole barn where the dogs are housed, described a “choir of dogs.” He said that when one starts barking, they all chime in. He said the barking is worst in the mornings, with additional spurts in the early afternoon and evenings. If the barn doors are opened, he can hear the barking while in his house. He also cited safety concerns for his children if the dogs got loose and said he didn’t feel the property is “properly under control or supervised.” One concern he raised was that dogs were tethered outside in portable dog houses, though that issue was resolved in the fall. Another issue was the fencing at the facility was described as “horse wire” fencing that a dog could easily pass through. As with all the residents, he also said the neighborhood was “quiet and peaceful” before the facility opened.
Jason Charles, whose property is immediately adjacent to the facility, testified he knew the kennel was in operation “the day the dogs moved in.” A horse trainer, he indicated a lot of his customers “wondered what was going on over there.” He indicated the horses were less bothered by the noise than the riders, who had difficulty focusing when the dogs were barking. He indicated he also heard whips, firearms and people screaming during the training sessions. Saying the barking was worst in the fall, he felt the “tone” of the barking was “an aggressive kind of bark” that was hard to ignore. He was also concerned about his property’s value. Crystal Charles, Jason Charles’ wife, testified she saw a loose German Shepherd on her family’s back 25 acres.
On cross examination by the applicant’s attorney Alex Snyder, this may have been a personal dog owned by the Morrisons, not a dog from the training facility, though at the time no one knew that was the case. She also described “aggressive” barking by the dogs that wasn’t like a dog barking “when you come home from work.” She also expressed concern about safety, the lack of fencing and property values. She also added, “I do think it will affect our horse business.”
Eugene Kilmore, Hidden Creek Rd., lives on the opposite side of the street from the facility, roughly 1400 feet from the kennel building. He reported hearing the barking from inside his house if windows are open and noted weather conditions were a factor, especially if the wind was from the west. Then, he said, it felt as though the dogs were “right in my backyard.” He also felt that his personal dogs were “drawn” to the kennel by the barking. Unlike shots from hunting seasons, he reported gunfire at the training facility came in rapid bursts, one after the other, though he noted that didn’t happen often. He also testified he never heard dogs barking from the nearby kennel on Brittany Lane. Shane Kilmore, also of Hidden Creek Rd. and the son of Eugene Kilmore, testified he was “awakened by a racket” the first day the dogs arrived. He testified he was awakened from sleep at 2-3 a.m. in late summer when his windows were open. He said he could no longer “enjoy his back yard” and that the situation was “not a pleasant environment.” He also testified about a loose German Shepherd, noting that it was eventually picked up by a woman and put in the back of her car. He noted that it was not a dog he knew from knowing his neighbors.
When asked about the rescue kennel on Brittany lane, he said he didn’t know it was there, even though it was behind his house, saying, “I haven’t heard it one time. I had no idea there was a kennel over there.” The applicants can appeal the decision, if they choose, but no indication was given after this hearing if that would be the case. Supervisors indicated they would give a written decision about their denial within the legally allotted timeframe.
For more information see the February 27, 2020 edition.