NEWBERRY – A Newberry business has been approved for expansion of their facility. Following a lengthy Board of Adjustment (BOA) hearing on an application to expand Pet Paradise, 19518 Newberry Road, a Special Exception (SE) application to allow for facilities expansion was approved. The 4.85-acre property is located to the west of Dudley Farm State Park and is bound on the east, north and west by Tropic Traditions, Inc., a plant nursery.
City Commissioners, sitting as the BOA, voted 3-2 in favor of approval of the application with Commissioners Monty Farnsworth and Paul Norfleet casting the dissenting votes. Prior to the quasi-judicial hearing, the City received three requests from residents asking that the SE application be denied.
Jim Fleming, owner of Tropic Traditions, said he had to maintain the overgrowth of the Pet Paradise fence line, which encroached onto his property. In response to that complaint, Brian Franco, Vice President of Store Master Funding, met with Fleming and agreed to have the fence line vegetation trimmed. Franco showed photographs of the before and after cutting and said he would maintain the overgrowth in the future.
Mary Fleming lives directly next door to the west of the property and opposed the planned expansion. "As it is now, the barking dogs are constantly disrupting my lifestyle, in particular my much-needed rest/sleep," she said. She also said she had never complained before but felt it was obligatory to do so now.
William W. (Wayne) Tharp sent a letter explaining his family’s long history on 20 acres of property at 19527 West Newberry Road and the adjoining 17-acre parcel directly south and across Newberry Road from Pet Paradise. His expressed concern was that “at times a lot of barking can clearly be heard across Newberry Road on my property.” He also complained that several times people pulling boats or driving large vehicles have pulled over on the side of Newberry Road to pick up or drop off animals at Pet Paradise. “I have to believe that the proposed additional 77 kennel spaces will only make the current barking noise and limited parking, ingress and egress, particularly for larger vehicles, worse and unacceptable,” he said.
Wayne Tharpe also was sworn in to testify in the quasi-judicial hearing. He said he believed the buffers were unrealistic for 125 barking dogs and that he didn't think barking dogs would add to anyone's property values. "I don't see a need for another 77 barking dogs," he said.
Newberry Planning and Economic Development Director Bryan Thomas explained that the animal boarding facility is located in an agricultural zoning district, as authorized by the City's Land Development Regulations (LDRs). The application will allow the facility to expand the 12,500-sq.-ft. building and 125 kennel spaces to allow for the addition of 4,500 sq. ft. and 77 more kennels.
The property was annexed into the City in August 2019 and received approval for a zoning change in November 2019. The zoning change requires a Special Exception (SE) to allow for the facility expansion.
Thomas explained, "The purpose of a SE is to permit a use not otherwise allowed by right in a particular zoning district when certain conditions specifically set out in the SE are met." When considering approval of a SE, the BOA must consider the potential for adverse impacts on the surrounding area.
Clay Sweger of eda Engineers, who was acting as the agent for the parent company, Store Master Funding XI, submitted a site and development plan showing the proposed placement of the new buildings, parking provisions, entrance to and from the parking area, refuse and service areas as well as open spaces. The plan also showed screening and buffering, landscaping, signage and lighting. In all cases, the project met or exceeded the requirements required by the City.
Franco presented photographs of a relatively new facility similar to the one proposed in Newberry. He also provided pictures of the inside of the existing Newberry location and explained how the employees mitigated odor and noise on the property and addressed hours of operation, outside playtimes and how the facility is regulated.
Franco said, "We want to be good neighbors and will try to minimize nuisance barking." He also said he had introduced Fleming to his facility manager and encouraged Fleming to contact his manager whenever an issue arises.
One item in the Planning and Zoning Board's recommendation to the BOA was removed from the resolution before approval by the board. That item was a sentence indicating that the City would be responsible for making sure that the facility would address the boundary overgrowth.
Three board members agreed with Mayor Jordan Marlowe that it was not something they believed the City should be responsible for regulating. Commissioner Tim Marden made the motion to approve, explicitly eliminating the questionable item from his action. Commissioner Rick Coleman seconded.
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