The Zoning Board of Appeals has approved a dog training facility at 218 S. James St.
Kim Strong is moving her training business out of her Utica home and into the rear half of a brick-and-concrete building near the train tracks on the 200 block. Her application listed the request as a kennel, but she explained to the five-member volunteer board Wednesday that she will only board dogs that are being trained. There will be no boarding of animals for such things as when their owners are out of town, she said.
The plan is to put the office and kennel in the rear of the building, along with a isolated, ventilated dumpster for storage of waste that will include dog feces. There is a grassy area outside, which will be fenced in and serve as the training area.
The board approved a special use permit for the operation. It will be at the 1.45-acre parcel is owned by SG Rome. It is located in a C-3 commercial zone. The front of the first floor is occupied by Bayan Convenience Store & Cellular Phones.
The dog training site will also be headquarters for Justice of Lainey, an advocacy group created to bring awareness to the story of a neglected dog and to strengthen animal abuse and neglect laws. Lainey was a 4-year-old Austrian Shepherd mix rescued in Camden in May. After receiving around-the-clock care, Lainey succumbed to her injuries en route to an emergency veterinary clinic. Earlier this week, Ian M. West, of 29 Martin Court, Annsville, pleaded guilty to aggravated cruelty to an animal. Court officials said West agreed to a sentence of five years probation and community service when he is sentenced on Jan. 27.
The training operation will keep dogs overnights for one to two weeks at a time, with several training sessions each day, said Strong. The dogs will never be outside unsupervised, she said. The site will be staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week. She said she intends to typically have six to eight dogs on site at one time, though it could be as many as a dozen.
The use was approved 4-1, with member Thomas Roman voting against it. Each member who voted in support noted their initial apprehension with a kennel, but said they changed their minds after hearing the more detailed plans.
Board Chair Joseph Mellace noted that the criteria for a special use permit includes the requirement that it be suitable for the neighborhood, which is commercial. It is also a brick-and-concrete building that baffles noises well. It also has adequate parking, he noted, and the business should not create traffic problems. "I don’t feel comfortable putting that facility in downtown Rome," Roman said of his vote against the plan.