OWOSSO TWP. – The Sweetheart Acres kennel owner has 90 days to stop her dogs barking “nuisancely” or the planning commission could strip her conditional use license and force her to close the business.
About 30 township residents attended a session of the Owosso Township Planning Commission on Thursday evening at the Owosso Township Hall, primarily to tell the commissioners that the dogs (German Shepherds and Basset Hounds) belonging to Jena Machala , owner of Sweetheart Acres, are constantly barking and breaking away from her property.
Machala, who has lived at her Cook Road property since 2015, said she obtained a county kennel license and a conditional use permit from the township in 2017. She admitted her dogs barked, but said it wasn’t. was not as much as its neighbors claim. . She breeds dogs and gives obedience classes.
She said Animal Control has been called more than 100 times since 2017 over alleged issues with her dogs.
“It’s just harassment,” Machala said of her neighbors’ complaints. She added that she is allowed to have up to 10 dogs on her property, under the terms of her license, but sometimes has more when raising animals.
She also has a cow and several goats that live on her property, which is zoned agricultural.
A ‘field contact’ report from the Shiawassee County Sheriff’s Office (Animal Control) describes a surprise inspection during which Machala allegedly ‘went on a rant’ claiming that her neighbors poisoned her cat and ‘let them out (the dogs) and allowed them to bark because she didn’t care anymore.
Joe Tejkl, one of about 10 residents who complained to council, said he and other neighbors have had ongoing issues with Machala since she opened her business in 2017. He asked the commission to planning to revoke Machala’s conditional use permit.
“I don’t think that’s fair,” Tejkl said. “I don’t think they should give him those 90 days. She’ll be compliant for 90 days, and after that we’ll be back to dogs barking all night, barking whenever they want. She won’t take care of them. She says she does. But all of us here complain that they bark. It is very frustrating.
Kathy Robinson, another neighbor of Machala on Cook Road, said she tried to talk to Machala about dog issues, but most of the responses she received were “four-letter words”.
Robinson described an incident in which she claims she and her husband were riding horses down Cook Road, and several of Machala’s dogs threatened her horses. Robinson said she used a whip to keep Machala’s dogs at bay.
Machala denied that the incident ever happened and accused Robinson of trespassing on her property and then assaulting her, which Robinson denied.
Brian Robinson, Kathy Robinson’s husband, said the situation was “a nightmare”.
The planning commission refused to revoke Machala’s permit, but voted 4-0 to give him 90 days to bring his dogs into compliance and “reasonably controlled noise”, by installing soundproofing equipment in his garage, where the Dogs are primarily guarded, and not allowed outside from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. Surprise inspections are also part of the commission’s decision and will be conducted by members of the planning commission.
If the situation does not improve, the commissioners agreed, they could revoke Machala’s conditional use permit, forcing her to close her business.
“It’s getting ugly,” Commissioner Danny Miller said, and said the planning commission’s decision was an attempt at compromise.