Commissioners muzzle dog-training proposal

Barking, traffic and other noise lead to denial of seasonal permit

A proposal to grant a seasonal-use permit to a dog-training facility on the Florida Mesa drew a full crowd to the La Plata County Board of County Commissioner’s meeting Tuesday.

Despite pleas from numerous supporters of the kennel club’s efforts, the commissioners voted 2-1 to deny the permit.

The Durango Kennel Club uses parts of the property, including a large metal building owned by Karen and Jim Lewis, to conduct dog obedience, herding and agility training. The Lewises, who are members of the kennel club, also live on the property.

After the barking, traffic and other noise on the property drew complaints from neighbors in August, the county required the Lewises to obtain a seasonal-use permit to operate the trainings on their property during the summer.

In Tuesday’s meeting, commissioners Bobby Lieb and Wally White agreed with county planners’ recommendations that the proposed use is not compatible with the surrounding area, which is classified as agricultural or rural residential.

The commissioners had to base their decision on the current land-use code, however imperfect it may be, White said.

“Our code is not what we would consider the best and (neighborhood) compatibility isn’t necessarily the best way to judge land use and land-use planning,” White said. “But unfortunately that’s what we have.”

Audience members who spoke in support of the seasonal-use permit said it would be close to impossible for the Durango Kennel Club to find another facility for dog training.

They also named numerous community services the club provides, including efforts to teach children about good dog ownership and help rescue dogs.

Neighbors said the volume of car traffic, dogs and people on the Lewis’ property has increased through the years, significantly affecting their quality of life.

“The noise, traffic and activity generated has prevented neighbors from being outside on their own property,” said Anita Hermosillo, who lives next door to the Lewis property. “For me, it was like living next to a circus, a parking lot and campground all in one.”