After attempting to open an indoor animal kennel downtown and learning this was not allowed under Mount Airy’s existing regulations, operators of the Bark and Meow pet store are seeking a zoning change.
Planning department staff members recently learned that the operators were in the process of opening the kennel at the business located at 259 N. Main St., according to city Planning Director Andy Goodall.
That site is in the city’s B-1 (central business) zoning district, where animal kennels – defined as business establishments where boarding, breeding, grooming, and related activities take place involving more than four domesticated animals at a time – aren’t allowed.
The only areas in Mount Airy where kennels are now permitted are those zoned M-1, for industrial use.
After being made aware of the zoning prohibition by planning department staffers, Bark and Meow officials applied to the city – under the name Grand Pup Resort Hotel & Spa – to amend Mount Airy’s zoning ordinance to allow indoor animal kennels in the B-1 district, with special requirements.
A public hearing is required before such changes can occur. On Thursday during a 2 p.m. meeting, the city Board of Commissioners will consider setting a hearing on the requested zoning ordinance amendments relating to animal kennels.
It is tentatively scheduled during the board’s second regular meeting this month, on May 19 at 7 p.m.
The planning director pointed out in a memo to the city council that the Bark and Meow request “deviates greatly” from the existing requirements for animal kennels.
That prompted a check with officials of neighboring municipalities to determine how those towns regulate such facilities, including Dobson, Pilot Mountain, Elkin and King. It revealed that none allow animal kennels or any kind, indoor and outdoor, in their central business districts, Goodall’s memo states.
In late April, when the issue went before the Mount Airy Planning Board – an advisory group to the commissioners – concerns were expressed about the proposed kennel operation. Planning board members noted that the Bark and Meow request was not consistent with the city zoning ordinance in promoting the orderly growth and development of Mount Airy’s downtown and surrounding area.
And given the potential impact an animal kennel could have on nearby residential uses and the downtown area overall, the planning board discussed modifying special space and other requirements to a greater degree than what Bark and Meow is requesting.
That led to a 6-1 planning board decision to recommend the approval of the requested changes related to Bark and Meow, with certain modifications.
Among these are one calling for no more than 12 animals to be permitted at an indoor kennel in the B-1 zone, more stringent than the requested amendment of up to 20 pets of any type to be boarded overnight at a time.
The planning board also is recommending that the entire operational area of an indoor kennel – including outdoor exercise and storage-refuse areas – be at least 150 feet away from any adjoining residential use or zoning district and at least 1,000 feet from any other kennel.
That exceeds a requested change of a minimum 100-foot buffer from residential uses.
The planning board further recommends standards for soundproofing and outdoor exercise areas, including one to require such areas to be enclosed by an 8-foot-tall screening fence or wall.
Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.