Glenwood Council backs dog kennel plan
Kennels have come a long way from the chain-link fences and unsupervised outdoor dog runs of old to now resemble something more along the lines of a pet resort or spa.
At least that’s what Dr. Lori Pohm and her husband, Bob Thorsen, owners of the All Dogs and Cats Veterinary Hospital in Glenwood Springs, have in mind with their latest venture, Dog Holliday’s Pet Resort, to be located in the former Western Petroleum building at 2517 S. Grand Ave.
Pohm and Thorsen on Thursday night won the support of the Glenwood Springs City Council in an appeal brought by neighbors of the planned facility after the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission approved the project in late April.
“The way this project came about is that we kept getting calls from people who wanted day care for their dogs or a place to board them while they were here visiting,” Pohm explained during the appeal hearing.
“It’s not just for the people in our own community, although there is a real need … but it’s also for our visitors,” she said, noting that vacationers often travel with their dogs and cats, but need a place for their pets to stay while they’re out taking in the area attractions.
Residents of the South Grand/27th Street neighborhood, who number in the range of 800 to 900 people considering the immediate area and residential areas across the Roaring Fork River on Midland Avenue, had objected to the plan.
Chief among their concerns is the potential for noise from barking dogs and other impacts, such as odor from dog feces and urine. The owner of the neighboring Rivers Restaurant had also opposed the kennel.
“The character of the neighborhood is clearly residential,” said attorney Charlie Willman, representing Sheryl and Ted Doll, who live across the river in the Cottonwood Landing subdivision.
Even though the owners propose to have no more than eight dogs outside at a time with a staffing ratio of one person for every eight dogs, Willman said there’s no way to enforce that or to control barking dogs.
“Bottom line, dogs bark and sound travels very easily in this area,” he said.
Willman also questioned whether two conditions of approval imposed by the P&Z, one triggering a review of the use permit if any noise complaints are received and the other requiring the permit to be automatically reviewed in the case of an ownership change, are even permitted under city code.
City Attorney Karl Hanlon countered that, as long as the conditions were agreed to by Pohm and Thorsen, they are binding.
Glenwood Springs architect Bruce Barth of Red House Architecture is designing the kennel and grooming facility. He explained that modern kennels are more like pet spas, with supervised play activities both indoors and outdoors and with individual pet “suites” that more resemble hotel rooms than cages.
Dog Holliday’s will be “high quality and well-managed,” he assured on behalf of Pohm and Thorsen. Dogs will not be allowed outside before 8 a.m. or after 7 p.m., he said.
Pohm added that any dogs that appear uncontrollable for any reason would be denied boarding.
“I’m concerned about noise too, because it could risk the investment I have made in this business,” she said.
While several other neighbors of the facility spoke against the kennel, numerous supporters also spoke favor of the project, including one competitor who said her facility is often booked up.
“We’re maxed out,” said Laurie Raymond, owner of High Tails Cats and Dogs in West Glenwood. “Our community needs this facility, and I don’t think you are going to see the impacts that you are worried about.”
City Council voted 5-1 to affirm P&Z decision in favor of the kennel.
Councilor Kathryn Trauger said she believes the use is compatible with the commercial zone district on South Grand, and noted that other allowed uses could have greater impact on nearby residents.
“With mitigation, I would be very surprised if we have any complaints,” she said.
Other council members said there are proper safeguards in the conditions of approval to revisit the permit if any problems arise.
“You do have recourse, and a way to ensure the applicant does what they say they are going to do so that it doesn’t impact your way of living,” Councilman Stephen Bershenyi said.
Councilor Steve Davis sided with the neighbors in voting to overturn the P&Z decision. Council member Leo McKinney had to recuse himself from hearing the matter because he owns property near the planned kennel site.
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The Glenwood Hot Springs Lodge experienced vandalism in the form of significant water damage after a man removed a pipe valve with a fire extinguisher flooding four hallways. The lodge however remains open and operational.