Wake County

Fight over North Raleigh dog kennel goes to court

A group of North Raleigh residents are determined not to let sleeping dogs lie.

For more than two hours Monday, a Wake County judge listened to arguments surrounding whether a special-use permit for a dog day care facility on Six Forks Road should be revoked and denied.

The county’s Board of Adjustment voted unanimously last year to approve the permit. But Sandra and Michael Baker, who live nearby on Martindale Drive, filed an appeal in October alleging that the board should not have approved the permit and asking the district court to reverse the board’s decision and deny the permit.

Katherine Ross, an attorney with ParkerPoe representing the Bakers, argued that the facility would negatively impact residents’ lives because of increased traffic and noise, public health concerns and decreased property values.

“If you look at the findings of fact from the board, they are not based on substantial evidence by the applicant,” Ross said. “The question is, did the applicant provide confident material and substantial evidence? And the answer is no.”

Representing Connell Properties, the company that requested the special-use permit, Karen Kemerait of Smith Moore Leatherwood and Ken Murphy with the Wake County Attorney’s office argued that residents had “unsubstantiated worries and fears” and that the Board of Adjustment’s decision should stand.

The Board of Adjustment can approve or deny special-use permits. Judge James Roberson has 30 days to issue a ruling.

“Getting to this hearing has been a stressful and expensive experience,” Sandra Baker said in an email. Filing an appeal was “absolutely necessary,” she said.

“And personally, I have to preserve mine and my husband’s right to enjoy our home, our sanctuary from the world, for as long as we live in it, and to preserve its monetary value when we go to sell it. We will have neither of those things if our ‘neighbor’ is a commercial kennel for 70 dogs,” she said. “We are very hopeful that the judge will review our brief and the full transcript of the original hearing, and find that it supports the arguments that our legal team presented yesterday, and that we will get a favorable ruling.”

The nearly 8,000-square-foot facility, which would be built at 11021 Six Forks Road and accommodate up to 70 dogs, has faced an uphill battle since Cayce Connell, who works for Perennial Mortgage Group in Raleigh, requested the special-use permit. The facility is intended to improve Six Forks Road and offer a service currently unavailable in the area, she said in August.

Dogs could stay overnight, but the daycare would primarily cater to people who drop off their dogs during the day. The facility would include an outdoor play area that could accommodate up to 15 dogs surrounded by a solid masonry wall and a vegetative buffer.

“The details regarding the project have not changed,” Connell said in an email in February. “The focus is healthy monitored indoor play in a climate controlled environment.”

About 30 people attended the Board of Adjustment meeting in August to oppose the project, including Sandra Baker, who spoke against the kennel at the meeting and created an online Change.org petition opposing the kennel that has gathered more than 430 signatures.

“It is our collective opinion that the proposed dog kennel at this location would adversely affect the public health, safety and welfare of the surrounding properties and the general public as well,” the petition says. “The proposed use of the property will have widespread negative effects on this residential area including: increased traffic on a heavily used roadway and road safety due to the location of the proposed driveways and the increase in turning movements into the proposed kennel at a difficult location on Six Forks Road.”

According to the petition, there are five businesses within a five-mile radius of the proposed project that offer dog-boarding services.

Baker and Nancy Dunn, who lives on Six Forks Road and also spoke against the project at the meeting in August, launched a website, NoSixForksKennel.com, to post updates about the project and raise money for legal costs. According to the website, they have spent more than $27,000 on legal fees and raised nearly $15,000 through donations.

Wake County Commissioner Greg Ford, who oversees District 6, said he did not want to weigh in on whether he favors or opposes the kennel because the court’s decision could be appealed to the county’s Board of Commissioners. The property rights of both the petition and the neighbors need to be respected, he said.

“I appreciate both perspectives,” Ford said. “It’s important to honor this process.”

Madison Iszler: 919-836-4952; @madisoniszler

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