The Fulton Township Zoning Hearing Board met very briefly on Monday to issue its decision, granting a special exception for the construction of a new kennel – with certain conditions.
About 20 opponents from the surrounding community were among the 35 people who attended the meeting, but did not have time to comment before the motion granting the request was unanimously approved.
The decision follows an August 25 hearing in which Marlin and Lori Nolt of 184 Pilottown Road, Peach Bottom, argued their case to allow a kennel on their property.
The property is zoned for agricultural use. The building is proposed to be 24 feet by 124 feet, built to commercial standards for up to 100 breeding dogs, plus the puppies produced.
The board-imposed conditions require Nolts to follow all state regulations for kennel operations, plus a few additions.
More importantly, the council limits the sale of puppies to no more than 200 animals per year. Applicants are also required to follow all building code regulations, obtain all necessary permits, comply with Pennsylvania dog laws, and have no outside storage for operation.
At the end of the August hearing session, the evidence was closed and the date set for resuming the decision.
There were only a few residents at the initial meeting, but when the issue was heard, a group of about 20 naysayers came to the September 4 supervisors’ meeting.
“I had no expectations one way or the other. If they fulfill what’s in the ordinance, that’s what it is,” said zoning board member John Weaver. “They filled everything they needed to do for our prescription and that was it. It’s cut and dry.
At their meeting earlier this month, supervisors emphasized that the Zoning Hearing Board is an independent body that makes its own decisions. They only allowed township residents to speak and limited them to one minute each.
No one had a chance to speak on Monday and a constable was on hand at the door in case he was needed.
The opposition was calm and orderly, and protesters were disappointed by the decision even though it was not unexpected.
“That’s not right. Maybe it’s legal, and it sickens me that someone would say it’s legal to keep dogs in a kennel 24/7 their entire life, to raise them until they can’t be raised anymore, to put them to sleep when they’re done with them, and I don’t care,” said Thelma Myers Grumbian, from neighboring township of East Drumore, after the meeting “We took what is already a terrible problem in this community and legalized it.”
In addition to concerns about the treatment of animals, there were also concerns about noise and the disposal of dog waste.
“It was (the decision) what we had expected. I am shocked that they put as many conditions as they did,” said Cindi King, from neighboring Little Britain township. “Unfortunately, I have my doubts as to whether they will enforce these conditions or be able to monitor the conditions they have imposed,”
When asked if they were surprised by the number of people speaking out against their plan, the Nolts declined to comment.
With the special exception granted, no further approval from the zoning board or township supervisors is required. The next steps in the process are to obtain a license from the state and obtain a building permit from the township.