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County given sound advice before approving kennel

Carrie Click
Special to the Post Independent

Barks, yelps and growls could be heard Monday afternoon coming from the Garfield County Board of County Commissioners’ meeting.

There were no actual dogs on site, but a packed commissioners’ meeting room listened intently as environmental and noise ordinance specialists demonstrated the various decibel levels of barking dogs, “white noise,” jet engines and air conditioners.

All this ruckus was in response to a hearing on acceptable noise levels at a Glenwood Springs-based sled dog kennel, owned and operated by Bill Pinkham. The hearing was a continuation of an earlier proposal by Pinkham to operate his sled dog operation, which houses 40 dogs on 40 acres at 1565 County Road 125 in Glenwood Springs. Pinkham is proposing to kennel the dogs at his site and run a sled dog operation in and around the Four Mile area this coming winter.

Numerous neighbors of the kennel have complained of varying degrees of canine-generated noise coming from Pinkham’s property. Many were on hand Monday to voice their concerns and listen to recommendations on acceptable levels of noise.

Tom Dunlop, president of Dunlop Environmental Consulting in Snowmass Village, explained to commissioners and meeting attendees that during testing at the kennel site he was able to determine that the barking dogs were within reasonable limits of noise.

Dunlop noted that, compared to other sound levels, Pinkham’s barking dogs were still within current acceptable sound levels.

Dunlop explained that the dogs emit a decibel level of between 40-45 db, standing 30 yards from Pinkham’s property line, or what nearby neighbors might hear on a typical day. In comparison, a freight train at 50 feet emits 80 db, and cars passing about 35 feet away can emit levels of 60 db.

“A sports bar on a Friday afternoon is a lot louder than these dogs,” Dunlop said. “A noisy bar can emit levels of 60 db.”

But sound levels were only one issue regarding Pinkham’s kennel. One neighbor, Michael Laramie, mentioned the “psycho-acoustic dimension” of having 40 dogs in relatively close proximity. There were also concerns made about acceptable treatment of solid waste at the site.

“(Our neighborhood) is an unusually quiet environment,” he said. “Intrusive howling and barking at 2 a.m. is not a natural part of it.”

Nonetheless, even though Laramie and over a half-dozen of his neighbors voiced concerns over the presence of Pinkham’s dogs, the sled dog owner received approval to continue to kennel his dogs on site – with special considerations.

Commissioners requested that dog noise at Pinkham’s be limited to a new standard: 55 db during the day, and 50 db at night. On recommendation from Dunlop, commissioners also agreed that Pinkham implement a sealed container plan to handle all solid waste from the kennel. This in effect keeps ground water from being contaminated by the dogs’ waste.

Upon approval, commissioners voted to give Pinkham and his attorney 30 days to demonstrate compliance with the new amended statutes and another 30 days before another general public review is scheduled to determine if the kennel – and its neighbors – are in agreement on what’s considered a normal sound and waste situation.

“I don’t like noise any more than anyone else does,” Pinkham said. “(Just like everyone), I want what is livable, what is fair and what is acceptable.”


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