Dog boarder told to file for commercial permit
STUYVESANT — The town Zoning Board of Appeals voted this week to revoke permits given to town resident William Pflaum for his home occupation dog boarding business. But in an effort to address the months-long, highly contentious dispute over the permits, the ZBA ruled that Mr. Pflaum may apply for a commercial permit as a way to continue running his business.
William Vick, the ZBA chairman, read a three-page motion at the board’s Tuesday, September 27 meeting listing the many decisions they have made over two years of dealing with Mr. Pflaum’s Glencadia Dog Camp, where he boards dogs from New York City in a barn on his property.
In the motion the ZBA noted the number of dogs kept at site and the noise from barking dogs. The town zoning enforcement officer said he received complaints from neighbors and had heard dogs barking himself, according to the motion.
Mr. Pflaum, who has been blogging about his dealings with the ZBA and other town officials, has written that has had sound levels tested and that his nearest neighbor is 1,000 feet from the barn. He has made it very clear that he disagrees with the statements of the zoning enforcement officer (ZEO). Mr. Pflaum believes that the town government unfairly wants to close his business.
He has enlisted support both in the town and around the county, where signs, most of them small, depicting the white silhouette of a dog on a red background have appeared on roadside lawns. The handmade signs have no words or other symbols to identify their origin or the issue they represent.
The text of the ZBA’s motion to revoke the permits was not released to the public at Tuesday’s meeting, but in reading the document aloud Chairman Vick said, “The ZEO attempted to worked with the applicant,” on the noise issues. The board also said that after five meetings on the issue, “the applicant has a full and fair opportunity to prepare his case.”
Chairman Vick read at the end of the motion that Mr. Pflaum “should be allowed to operate the kennel on his property if he meets all the requirements for a commercial facility.”
ZBA member Jeff Jensen asked that they add to the motion that this board and the Town Board allow Mr. Pflaum to operate his business while he goes through the process of applying for the commercial permits. The board received advice from special counsel David Everett, who was at the meeting, about changing the motion.
The motion was adopted by a vote of four to two. Board member Amy Abbati said she voted against the motion because the definition of commercial business was too broad. “Under this definition all home businesses would be commercial,” she said at the meeting.
Of the 50 people who turned out to the meeting, several were wearing t-shirts with the dog logo Mr. Pflaum created to support his case. After the meeting, arguments broke out between supporters and people against the kennel. Some people said that the town was trying to close small businesses while another woman responded, “You don’t live next door” to Mr. Pflaum.
Though there was no public comment period during the meeting and board members began leaving after the motion was adopted and another business item was taken care of, Mr. Pflaum asked the board if he could see documentation of what he’d done wrong.
“I have no idea what I did wrong…. What is the charge?” said Mr. Pflaum, who attended the meeting with his lawyer Peter Lynch.
He said he plans to continue his fight in state and federal court. Mr. Pflaum’s blog is www.sunshineonthehudson.com.
The town keeps minutes of public meetings on its website, www.stuyvesantny.us.
To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email email@example.com.