Vassalboro: Garage expansion, doggie day care approved by planners

by Mary Grow

Vassalboro Planning Board members approved two complete applications on their Nov. 9 agenda and scheduled a special meeting for 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 21, to deal with an incomplete one.

The incomplete application was from Michael Chick for an addition on a commercial garage on Burns Road, off Church Hill Road. Chick did not include the site plan required by town ordinances.

Engineer Jim Coffin said he could provide one within a week, leading to the special meeting. Chick’s wife said the planned 16-by-60-foot addition is to provide more work and storage space, not to increase traffic or other possible impacts of their construction business on the neighborhood.

Applications approved were for Brent Hall to build a three-car garage at 35 Sheafer Lane, on Webber Pond, and Kisten Crowell-Smith to open a doggie day care at 331 Stone Road.

Hall needed a planning board permit because the garage site is within the 250-foot shoreland zone. However, the building will be more than 100 feet from the water and meets all other ordinance requirements, so board members quickly approved the permit.

Crowell-Smith’s project was challenged by neighbor Earl Vannah Jr., leading to almost two hours’ discussion and approval with four conditions.

Crowell-Smith intends to add outdoor dog runs with stockade fencing and designate five parking spaces, two for employees and three for customers, at an existing house. The business will accommodate a maximum of 20 dogs, usually daytime only but sometimes boarding for long weekends or holidays.

Vannah was concerned about noise, waste disposal and odor, dogs getting loose, children wandering onto the property and other possible problems. He pointed out that the house is on a small lot and neighbors are fairly close.

Town Clerk Cathy Coyne and Animal Control Officer Peter Nerber said Crowell-Smith will need a license from the state Animal Welfare Program as well as the town permit. Nerber said the state license is conditional for the first six months and sets strict standards that are backed up by inspections.

In addition, he said, the provisions of Vassalboro’s Animal Control Ordinance would apply. They include measures concerning dogs whose persistent barking leads neighbors to file written complaints.

Vannah warned Crowell-Smith that before investing in the changes needed for the doggie day care, she should remember that if it bothers neighbors, she will lose her license.

The planning board made a state license one of the conditions for the local permit. They also required:

  • No disposal of animal waste in the building’s septic system;
  • Waste in Crowell-Smith’s proposed underground waste compost bins be covered and sealed, in response to Vannah’s suggestion that a child wandering onto the property might fall into one; and
  • No dog be left alone on the premises; if a dog is staying overnight, Crowell-Smith or an employee must be there too.

Crowell-Smith said she planned to do all those things anyway, and to empty the waste bins as necessary. She described the planned six-foot fencing as having inward-slanting tops so dogs could not jump over. She said before accepting a dog, she requires an application and a play date to make sure the dog will get along with others. If a dog barks a lot outdoors, the dog will come indoors; and if a dog is a persistent barker, she said, the customer will be asked to go elsewhere.

In the only other business Nov. 9, Codes Officer Richard Dolby told the board state officials have approved the revised Shoreland Zoning Ordinance Vassalboro voters adopted at the June town meeting.

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