A dog day care and boarding facility could be coming to the Near North Neighborhood in Grand Forks, but nearby residents are not happy about being neighbors with 60 canines.
Residents voiced their concerns Wednesday to the City Planning and Zoning Commission regarding a proposal for Petopia Pet Daycare to open a facility for boarding and taking care of dogs at 920 N. Third St., the former location of a Simonson's Lumber warehouse. The commission voted 8-2 to give the proposal preliminary approval.
The dog facility that would employ 10 to 12 workers would take up 5,000 square feet of the roughly 13,000-square-foot building, with the remaining space set aside for commercial tenants, according to city documents.
Petopia would refurbish the building to make it suitable for pets. It also would set up a 300-square-foot outdoor area for the dogs. That area would be fenced off, and up to 10 dogs would be let out at a time.
The facility could house up to 60 dogs during the day and up to 30 dogs overnight.
The outdoor area is supposed to be at least 300 feet away from residential structures and 100 feet from commercial buildings, but the closest home is 230 feet away while a commercial property is 47 feet away from the outdoor area, City Planner Brad Gengler said.
A conditional-use permit would allow the city to make an exception for the facility's outdoor area, Gengler added.
Residents lined up Wednesday to express their concerns, including sanitation, smell from dog waste, a potential for increased traffic near Wilder Elementary School and loud noises from dogs barking. Others felt the location was not right for a dog facility, stating there are other locations in Grand Forks or outside the city would be more appropriate.
"The sound of a barking dog is a very stressful noise," said Julie Grabanski, who lives near the proposed day care site.
An operational plan highlights efforts to mitigate noise, including not allowing dogs outside from 9 p.m. to 8 a.m. and using the fence and building as a sound barrier. Operators also claim barking would remain below city standards for nuisance and noise ordinance levels.
"A fence doesn't stop the sound," Commissioner Peter Kuhn said.
The nuisance and noise ordinance only covers manmade noises, not from dogs, City Attorney Howard Swanson said. But a citation can be issued under the barking dog ordinance, he said.
Employees would use dog whistle training to address bad behavior, including excessive barking, Petopia representatives said Wednesday. Staff also would clean the outdoor area after every use, they said.
Grabanski was concerned how that whistle could affect dogs that live in nearby residencies.
Eliot Glassheim, a former state legislator and City Council member who lives about three blocks from the proposed site, said residents do not hate dogs but are concerned about the concentration of dogs in a small area.
"Fifty residents in the neighborhood anticipate they will be negatively impacted by the doggy day care," he said as he referred to a petition opposing the facility.
The commission could revoke the permit if it doesn't meet the conditions of the agreement, Commissioner Alex Reichert said.
"If we do approve this, this board is going to be watching this closely," he said.
The commission's recommendation will go to the City Council, which will make the final decision on the matter.