2017-11-17 / Community

Arundel sets special town meeting date

Petition calls for amendments to pet day care rules
By Wm. Duke Harrington Staff Writer

ARUNDEL — Following acceptance of a citizens’ petition Monday, Arundel selectmen have set a special town meeting for Jan. 8 to vote on its requests of changes to town rules governing pet daycare facilities.

The petition accepted by selectmen Nov. 13 contained 200 valid signatures from registered town voters, Town Clerk Simone Boissonneault said — two more than the minimum required to force selectboard action.

The petition was circulated by Kristin Woodward, who met with the planning board Sept. 14 for a pre-application meeting, in hopes of establishing a pet day care center, to be called Rontu’s Run Dog Daycare at her existing riding stable, located at 496 Limerick Road.

At the Oct. 23 meeting of the board of selectmen, Woodward claimed the process of licensing her new project had been continually stymied by the planning board.

“I’ve been trying to get this going now for a year and a half,” she said. “I have been trying to comply with the planning board and they just keep throwing more and more at me, a lot of which seems to be unreasonable. I just feel like they are asking a lot of something that should be real simple.”

Woodward, who was made to redo her driveway, among other reported planning board mandates, said she circulated her petition to eliminate the final insurmountable “roadblocks” to her new business venture.

“I just really feel like I’ve been banging my head against the wall,” she said. “Every time I go before the [planning] board, it’s ‘OK, now you have to do this.’ I do that and then it’s, ‘now you have to do this.’ It’s just been ongoing. I’d like to be able to start, but it just feels like it’s never going to happen unless something changes.”

Town Manager Keith Trefethen said at that time that a petition for a special town meeting was the most viable route to amending the town rules the board is currently using as its basis to deny Woodward’s project.

However, he said Woodward was “absolutely correct” in her complaint that the planning board often piecemeals its requirements, instead of laying out all that needs to be done for approval at the outset.

“We’ve had this conversation before,” he said. “I think it’s important that the applicants get all of the information, that they’ve been given all of the direction they need prior to going back to the planning board. What I’ve noticed in speaking to Kris [Woodward], as well as to others, is that when they go in, all of a sudden something else gets brought up, and then they feel frustrated about the process they are under.

“We need for people to be told what they need up front so the process goes quicker,” Trefethen said. “I will continue to work on that.”

Among the changes to the town’s list of conditional uses in its residential districts requested by Woodward, the proposal would:

 Amend a requirement that a facility providing dog day care have at least one full-time staffer who is a “certified pet dog trainer,” to instead require that he or she be a “certified animal trainer,” and eliminated a mandate that this person be a member of the Association of Professional Dog Trainers;

 Eliminate a requirement that the outdoor portion of a dog daycare facility be set back 50 feet from any property line and specify that the required 8-foot fence may be just 6 feet tall, if make of chain link known as “coyote rollers;”

 Amend the requirement that the fence around outdoor play areas adjacent to neighboring residential homes be “solid and opaque,” to say they “shall have privacy screening such as semi-opaque mesh or like;”

 and change the rule that dog waste must be cleaned on a daily basis and placed in “airtight containers,” to say those containers shall be “state approved,” whether airtight or not, and that required disposal via commercial trash contracts may be replaced with “state approved and inspected composting on site.”

Finally, the proposal also says “town rules and regulations shall follow closely with those of the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Animal Welfare Program and certification rules for dog day care in Maine, and owners/operators must show proof of a satisfactory state inspection.”

That, however, caused some consternation for selectmen, based on the experience of Boissonnault, who had tried to find examples of those rules online.

“I haven’t been able to locate anything pertaining to specific regulations on pet daycares,” she said, noting that such facilities, as opposed to more traditional boarding kennels, “are fairly new.”

“I don’t like the way she worded that,” Selectman Dan Dubois said. “I think it should be a little more specific as to where you can find all of that.”

“Well the fact that she recited something here suggests to me there is something out there,” board chairman Thomas Danylik said. “We just need to get here or somebody to find it.”

Selectmen briefly entertained the idea of asking Woodward to submit a reworded petition with new ordinances language specifying the chapter and verse of state law with which town rules are expected to comply. However, they quickly cast that idea aside, given Boissonneault’s advice that not only would Woodward need to submit a new petition with at least 198 valid signatures, she’d have to get permission from all the previous signatories to withdraw the petition on file.

The board voted unanimously to schedule the special town meeting.

A planning board public hearing on the new rules is required prior to the Jan. 8 special town meeting. That session had not been scheduled as of press time.

Staff Writer Duke Harrington can be reached at news@kennebunkpost.com.

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