Tuesday, September 25, 2012
The Board of Appeals held its regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday, September 25, 2012 at 7:00 p.m. in the Commissions Meeting Room of the Charles County Government Building, La Plata, Maryland.
The following were present:
Frederick Mower, Chairman
Luke Hannah, Vice Chairman
Jean Schappet, Member
Natalie McKinney, Member
Brendan Moon, Member
Cindy Terry, Alternate
Matthew Clagett, Associate County Attorney
Shelley Wagner, Planning
Carrol Everett, Clerk
The Chairman called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m. and stated there was a quorum. The Chairman announced the process by which all Board of Appeals hearings are to be conducted.
7:02 PM, Public Hearing: Docket #1292 – Farmstead Kennels, c/o Crouse Engineering, for a Special Exception for a commercial kennel, as provided in Article XIII, Section 297-212 and Article XXV, Section 297-415 of the Charles County Zoning Ordinance.
Mr. Clagett stated there was substantial compliance with the notification requirements. Shelley Wagner, Planning Staff, gave a summary of the request using a location, zoning and aerial map as follows:
John Middleton is the owner and operator of Farmstead Kennels.
Berry Grove, LLC is the owner of the 15.2558 acre parcel.
The property was formerly used as a U.S. Government Nike Missile site.
The property was previously approved for 29 single family dwellings known as Berry Grove. The owner has since voided out that preliminary plan.
The area subject to the Special Exception request is 9.131 acres.
The remaining 6.1242 acres was approved by the Board for the use of a veterinary hospital on December 13, 2011.
The property is zoned Low Density Suburban Residential (RL).
The Applicant will comply with all conditions associated with this use, as well as provide appropriate buffers to minimize any impact on the surrounding neighborhoods.
A fence is proposed to encompass the kennel.
The site is approximately 900 ft. from Bensville Road.
A Traffic Study will be required, if approved, at site development.
Staff is recommending approval of the Special Exception.
Steve H. Scott, Esquire represented the Applicant. Mr. Scott stated that the site has been abandoned for quite some time and has not been particularly useful for other residential uses due to its history. Studies have been done and no environmental issues were found. There is a significant challenge in getting residential financing for homebuyers for a site such as this, creating the possibility that the site will continue to sit abandoned and unused.
The Chairman swore in the following representatives for the Applicant:
Crouse Engineering, Inc.
3215 Leonardtown Rd.
Waldorf, MD 20601
39146 Middleton Lane
Mr. Crouse began a Power Point presentation that included photographs showing how the Applicant will meet the criteria of the Zoning Ordinance for the Special Exception request. His testimony included the following:
Farmstead Kennels will exist on the back of the property. Last Chance Animal Rescue Veterinary Clinic is located in the front of the property.
Access road will be widened from 18 ft. to 24 ft. per County standards.
West towards Bracey Estates there are some significant areas of cedar and evergreens that are well established. Most areas will have a 40 ft. minimum width buffer.
Site not close to the floodplain or existing wetlands.
Site plan will provide proper setbacks, bufferyards, conservation areas.
Will obtain all local, State and Federal permits required.
The use is permissible in the RL Zone by Special Exception.
Noise Study tests conducted inside the buffer and beyond it. Results indicate that dogs will not be heard even when running.
Traffic Study has been submitted to the County and State Highway Administration (SHA). The study was based on volume of traffic and peak hours for both uses of the property: 1) SHA approved August 2012. 2) Level of Service “B” exists along Bensville Road.
Dogs will not be left out but will be exercised.
The facility will have between 36 and 86 kennel stalls developed in several phases.
The building will be soundproof.
Hours of operation open to the public are proposed as follows: 1) Monday thru Saturday 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., and 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. 2) Sunday 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. 3) Employees 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Will conform to Animal regulations for Charles County.
Inspected three times a year by Animal Control.
Outside run areas set up as animals are moving temporarily in and out of the building. Run areas enclosed by a solid board fence.
Cages will be elevated (24 inches off the ground w/pea gravel underneath).
Any solids are removed by employees and disposed of in a dumpster.
Chemical used routinely to break down enzymes in any urine before it gets too far into the ground. Also used in dumpster for solid waste disposal.
Dumpster is surrounded by a cinder block wall so run-off cannot leave dumpster area.
Each suite area is required to have 50 sq. ft. of space.
Mr. Middleton began testimony with some general information on his background and experience as a kennel operator. He stated there is a great need for a first-class operation in Charles County. Many of his clients come from Charles County.
Questions from the Board included the following: What is the average stay for your clients? Have there been any complaints with your operation in St. Mary’s County? Do employees ever stay overnight? Are the hours of operation the same as St. Mary’s?
The Chairman swore in the following citizens from the audience who were in favor of the commercial kennel:
8115 Potobac Rd.
Port Tobacco, MD
8682 Port Tobacco Rd.
Port Tobacco, MD
8555 Crain Highway
Bel Alton, MD
3680 Elsa Ave.
8494 Cardinal Lane
White Plains, MD
Cynthia Sharpley, Director
Last Chance Animal Rescue
499 Leonardtown Rd.
817 Brandon Rd.
39120 Yates Rd.
209 Williamsburg Circle
La Plata, MD
39146 Middleton Lane
St. Mary’s City, MD
8512 Cardinal Lane
White Plains, MD
8520 Bensville Rd.
422 Patuxent Ct.
La Plata, MD
The Chairman swore in the following citizens from the audience who were opposed to the commercial kennel:
2849 Patricia Dr.
Shirley & Victor Perez
8685 Carrie Ct.
880 Carrie Ct.
2693 Kirk Dr.
Ms. Wagner responded to a concern raised by Mr. Perez regarding clean-up of the Nike Missile Site. As part of the review of the preliminary plan for Berry Grove 7 years ago, the County requested and received copies of reports from the Federal Government showing that the site had been cleaned up and deemed safe.
The Vice Chairman commented that we have an opportunity to revitalize the site with a relatively low impact use. He felt it will not open the gate to commercial development and will benefit both the community and the County.
Mr. Moon thanked the audience for taking time to come out and express their thoughts and concerns. He felt the Applicant did a great job of demonstrating care for their business and the properties around them. He agreed with the Vice Chairman in that this use would be less of an impact on Bensville Road than the previously approved 29 additional homes.
Ms. Schappet commented that she is in favor of the request and agrees with the comments made by the Vice Chairman and Mr. Moon.
McKinney agreed in that it would be a low impact use to Bensville Road and the surrounding community.
The Chairman stated he would like the hours of operation added to the conditions of approval. He would also like to add Conditions #1 through #7 of the approval Order for the Veterinary Hospital (Docket #1276).
Mr. Scott agreed to the added conditions of approval as stated by the Chairman.
Testimony was closed for Docket #1292.
Action by the Board
A MOTION was made by the Vice Chairman, seconded by Ms. Schappet, to approve Docket #1292 including all conditions and hours of operation as discussed. With all voting in favor, the MOTION passed.
A MOTION was made by the Vice Chairman, seconded by Ms. Schappet, to approve the Minutes for June 26, 2012. With all voting in favor, the MOTION passed.
A MOTION was made by the Vice Chairman, seconded by Ms. McKinney to approve the Minutes for July 24, 2012. With all voting in favor, the MOTION passed.
The meeting adjourned at 8:56 p.m.
The following Decision & Orders were signed:
Docket #369 – Maryland Rock Industries
Docket #1287 – Café Rio