The Town Zoning Board heard a different type of appeal on Nov. 20. Normally, the board is concerned with measurements. A homeowner will ask for a variance when a proposed addition leaves less than the required space at the rear or side of the property.
But the request on Nov. 20 was different. A property owner asked for a definition. Was she merely walking dogs or was she operating a kennel? If the ZBA determined that she was running a kennel, she would either have to desist or apply for a variance — since she had considerably less than the five acres the zoning ordinance would require.
Valentina Quinn told the board that she has two medium-sized dogs and a chihuahua that she takes for hikes. Sometimes, she will take other people’s dogs with her. “There’s no schedule.,” she said. “People will call and ask if I’m hiking today.”
On occasion, the dogs sleep over and will stay for up to a week. Ms. Quinn said she rarely keeps more than two dogs overnight. They stay in the house, and not in a separate structure.
Michael O’Connor, an attorney and author, spoke on Ms. Quinn’s behalf — saying that he’s left his dog with her for two days and there hasn’t been any charge. However Ms. Quinn has advertised her service, using the slogan “Our house, your dogs.”
The board saw a copy of the ad, looked at a map of the surrounding properties, and heard from several of Ms. Quinn’s neighbors. After a lengthy hearing, the board decided in executive session that Ms. Quinn was not operating a kennel.
She doesn’t need a variance, but she may have to improve the integrity of her fence. Police have spoken to her about it in the past, and neighbors maintain that she hasn’t made adequate repairs.
That should change in the future. Building Inspector Gary Vinson has offered to work with her to make sure the fence is fixed properly.