Council approves boarding kennel application despite neighborhood objectionsWhile neighbors got to have their say on a proposed commercial kennel in rural Cloquet, their objections didn’t sway City Council members, who voted unanimously Tuesday to approve both a conditional use permit and a commercial kennel license.
By: Jana Peterson, Pine Journal
Nearly two dozen residents of a proposed commercial kennel business attended Tuesday’s Cloquet City Council meeting to ask the council not to approve the new business.
Scott and Christina Johnson applied to build and operate the “Mutty Trails” kennel on their 9-acre property at 398 Freeman Road, which is in a farm residential zoning district. The pet boarding facility would house a maximum of 10 dogs and five cats, with limited outdoor access by the animals.
Neighbor objections included noise pollution (barking dogs), increased traffic on the rural roads, its influence on surrounding property values and quality of life.
City staff found the proposed kennel a compatible use in that zone, and remarked that the proposed use would provide an important service to the community because there are currently no pet boarding facilities within the city of Cloquet.
Steve Williams lives just south of the Johnsons’ property; he built a home there in 2005.
“It’s a peaceful place to live, I just don’t believe it will be [if this kennel is built],” Williams said, adding that he gathered 39 signatures opposing the kennel from surrounding neighbors.
While the neighbors got to have their say on the proposed project, their objections didn’t sway City Council members. Councilors voted unanimously – after more than an hour of discussion and comments – to approve both a conditional use permit for the proposed kennel project and a commercial kennel license, actions recommended by the Cloquet Planning Commission following the Feb. 14 public hearing.
Ward 5 Councilor Mark Roberts pointed out that, under city code, a homeowner in a farm residential zoning district can raise livestock, cattle, chickens and other farm animals without a permit.
“It seems to me that this is a very controlled, closed facility,” he said. “… Those other operations that don’t need a permit could generate much more odor and noise.”
At-large Councilor Barb Wyman lives just over a half mile away from the proposed kennel. She wasn’t sympathetic.
“I can hear all of your dogs barking constantly,” she said. “What I hear from you [the applicant] is the noise will be controlled. We’ve also had dogs run through our yard that are not controlled. It seems to me if a sound engineer has been contacted on this, we have everything covered.”
Councilors discussed noise issues at the Friends of Animals shelter in Cloquet at length, before Ward 2 Councilor David Bjerkness asked that a condition be added requiring the applicants to prove their construction will keep sound levels to an acceptable level.
Scott Johnson said he could do that.
“My [consultant] already said he could get [the soundproofing capability] down to 40 decibels, and my structure will be wood, not tin like the FOA shelter,” Johnson said.
OPTIONAL TRIM HERE
Christina Johnson has worked for the past six years at FOA as a veterinary clinical assistant.
In the Mutty Trails executive summary, the Johnsons wrote that the new kennel would offer its animal boarders a unique home setting.
“With furniture and toys assembled in the center of our facility, they will feel relaxed and right at home. This will allow our boarders to receive plenty of social interaction and ‘pack’ involvement … exactly what they yearn for.”