BELMONT — The Zoning Board unanimously granted a Tioga Road woman a variance to start a "doggie daycare" in a three-car garage she owns. The lot is just under one acre in size.
Carolyn Bancroft of 68 Tioga Drive was given the variance with the overwhelming support of her neighbors, despite warnings by the board and the planning director that the variance will stay with the property regardless of who owns it.
Tioga Drive is zoned as "residential-multiple" meaning the zone is limited to single- and multiple-family homes.
According to the minutes of the meeting, Bancroft is allowed to have up to 17 dogs on her property, including five of her own. The pet day care will operate from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and not on weekends. Drop off times in the morning are between 7 and 9 a.m. There are no overnight accommodations.
One of the conditions of Bancroft's approval is that she install an underground dog waste system for use at all time when the temperature is above 40 degrees. Dog feces must be collected at least once a week. Unclean conditions is a reason the town code enforcement officer can shut down the daycare at any time.
Bancroft's property is already fenced and one of the other conditions is that she keep the daycare dogs in their cages in the converted garage area and only walk them in a manner as not to be reckless or loud. Client dogs are expected to be inside the garage except for exercise.
No more than five customers can be in the garage at one time including the times when people are dropping off and picking up their dogs or training sessions.
The fencing must be of a wire mesh type and not opaque or solid material and must be maintained at all times. There must also be vegetation (grass) to keep an appropriate ground cover and to control odors.
Bancroft will also need site plan approval from the Planning Board and the permit will only be valid for two years at a time. If it expires and not renewed, it will expire.
Bancroft told the board the garage is already equipped with heat and air conditioned and she agreed to maintain smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in working conditions at all times.
According to the minutes of the ZBA meeting, Bancroft's neighbors all spoke in favor of her request for a variance.
One neighbor described her as a "dog whisper" that she has known and trusted for years. Bancroft has owned, trained and bred dogs for the past 30 years.
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