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Council sends kennel zoning amendment to Planning Commission

A Great Bend couple are hoping Great Bend zoning bylaws can be changed and allow them to continue to operate a dog boarding kennel in their West Broadway residential area. That’s a possibility after City Council voted Monday night to initiate a change for consideration by the city’s planning commission.

A citizen complaint has alerted city officials to the fact that current zoning bylaws prohibit such businesses in residential areas. That means the couple’s city license and state license (which they’ve held for two years) can’t be renewed.

“At the end of the day, these people are running a dog boarding facility at a dog daycare in a residential area, which is not allowed,” City Attorney Allen Glendenning said.

He said the problem was that Larry and Jennifer Kurtz had obtained a municipal permit for several animals, which could mean pets and not a kennel. This required and received the blessing of the Golden Belt Humane Society.

However, Glendenning said, those officials had no particular reason to check the city’s zoning mandates. “It’s understandable how it happened.”

“We did the right thing,” Larry said. “We did what was expected of us.

The council chamber was packed for this item on the agenda. Most of the spectators were there to support the couple and their business.

The Kurtzes live at 5908 Broadway, which is zoned R-1 (residential single family). Two years ago, they got a multi-pet permit from the city and a license from the state to operate a kennel to house pet dogs. owners.

Information provided to staff indicates that they have made conscientious efforts to comply with all applicable laws and have acted in a manner to prevent or minimize any adverse effects on neighboring landowners.

However, the city received the complaint alerting them and the clerk that current guidelines do not permit the operation of a kennel in R-1 neighborhoods (single family dwellings). The clerk therefore informed the Kurtzes that their license cannot be renewed this year, Glendenning said.

The code allows the Kurtzes to request a hearing before the Board of Directors. However, the Board of Directors is bound by the regulations and does not allow a kennel as a permitted use or conditional use unless it qualifies as a “home occupancy”.

In the current zoning ordinance, the definition of “home occupancy” reads: “a use incidental to the residential use of the property, which is an activity carried on by resident members of a family with no more than two persons employed from outside the resident family.”

The ordinance further states that “there will be no outdoor storage of equipment or materials used in home occupancy” and “there will be no noise, smoke, dust, odor or vibration emanating from the property which unreasonably disturbs, annoys, injures, or endangers the comfort, rest, health, peace or safety of persons outside of said property”.

It goes on to expressly ban hospitals, kennels and animal stables. This is the problem.

“So the only way a dog boarding operation can operate in a residential area is if the regulations are changed,” Glendenning said. It could be done in more than one way, he said.

The best method requires that it be first reviewed by the Planning Commission in a hearing and a recommendation made to the city council.

Under Kansas law, a general amendment can only be initiated by the Planning Commission or the Board of Trustees, the city attorney said.

Given that Larry and Jennifer are retired, losing the business “would be a major financial blow,” Larry said.

If there was a barking complaint, Larry would like to know who filed it. He said his neighbors were supportive.

As for barking, there are plenty of other dogs in the area. “It’s hard to tell where the barking is coming from,” he said.

From now on, the case will be brought before the planning commission which will hold a public hearing. The commission will then make a recommendation to the board.

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