June 7, 2013
Kennel owner: “Nothing will change” after BZA vote
Irina Barrett and lawyer Jack Wilson listen to testimony at Thursday’s hearing.
The Broad Run dog breeder and her lawyer claim an online smear campaign convinced Fauquier’s zoning board to improperly deny her special permit application Thursday afternoon.
Neighbor Charles Dennis, who testified in February, repeated his objection to noise from the kennel.
William Milano, who lives off Beverleys Mill Road, presented photos and graphics to make his case against traffic related to the kennel.
Dog trainer and customer Jacqueline Zinetti drove from New Jersey to testify on Mrs. Barrett’s behalf.
• Topic: Special permit for Canis Maximus Kennel's continued operation
• Agency: Fauquier County Board of Zoning Appeals
• When:Thursday, June 6
• Where: Warren Green Building, 10 Hotel St., Warrenton
• Length: 25 minutes
• Speakers: 7
• Site: 4.9 acres, 6205 Beverleys Mill Road, near Broad Run
• Zoning: Agricultural and rural conservation
• History: Kennel has operated almost four years without a zoning permit; after complaints, county zoning official and animal control officer visited in August; humane investigator visited Jan. 12 and found numerous problems. BZA conducted hearings in February and April, when applicant withdrew applicant. New application filed in April. Applicant proposed new, 2,000-foot kennel, with 14 indoor/outdoor runs and soundproofing.
• Issues: Zoning setback violations, management of dog waste, number of animals, noise and traffic/kennel entrance
• Vote: 5-0 to deny permit
• Next: Mrs. Barrett has 30 days to file notice of appeal with circuit court, or she may reapply in one year.
“It’s bunch of people who don’t know what they’re talking about, spreading misinformation on the Internet,” attorney Jack R. Wilson III said outside the Fauquier County Board of Zoning Appeals meeting at the Warren Green Building in Warrenton.
Thirty minutes earlier, Mr. Wilson had summarized a new application from Irina Barrett, who owns Canis Maximus Kennel.
The plan called for construction of a 2,000-square-foot kennel building with 14 indoor/outdoor runs and soundproofing to address neighbors’ concerns about noise. Mrs. Barrett would have built that $100,000 structure as far as possible from her 4.9-acre lot’s property lines, said the lawyer, offering to let county officials decide where to place it.
She planned to hire a contractor to collect and compost animal waste at the kennel, specializing in Doberman Pinschers and Great Danes, he explained.
Mrs. Barrett, “a breeder of 12 champions,” also agreed to limits on the number of dogs (26), number of litters (10 per year) and hours of operation, Mr. Wilson told the BZA.
But, after its third public hearing in five months on the matter, the board quickly voted, 5-0, to deny the permit.
The board cited traffic concerns, the impact on neighbors and environmental issues in its decision.
“Nothing will change,” Mrs. Barrett said after the vote. “I will still have 12 dogs (legally, without the permit). I won’t build the new kennel. I won’t compost (waste). I will take down the (extra) fence. And, I can have visitors whenever I want.”
Mrs. Barrett said she will continue to import and sell dogs, working with other breeders and kennels to house them so Canis Maximus stays within the limits of Fauquier’s zoning ordinance.
Her case drew interstate attention after a damning report from Fauquier Humane Inspector Hilleary Bogley got wide distribution on the Internet in January.
The report detailed Ms. Bogley’s concerns about conditions at the kennel on Beverleys Mill Road.
At an emotional BZA public hearing in February, Ms. Bogley called the operation “a puppy mill.”
After a second BZA hearing and withdrawal of her original zoning permit application, Mrs. Barrett in April filed a defamation suit, seeking $1.3 million in damages, against the court-appointed inspector and the Middleburg Human Foundation, which she helps operate. Mrs. Barrett also alleges the defendants misrepresented themselves in placing dogs she voluntarily gave them to address concerns about the number of animals at the kennel.
On Thursday, several neighbors repeated their objections to the permit, citing noise and traffic as primary issues.
After the meeting, Mrs. Barrett again said that opponents fabricated the case against her.
“I got (county) kennel permits in 2010 and 2011,” she said of the required documents to house more than 12 dogs. “Only last year was I told I needed a zoning permit. I have done everything I can, working with the county for nine months.”
County zoning officials have received more than 500 letters and e-mails objecting to a permit for Mrs. Barrett.
At the three public hearings, emotional testimony overwhelmingly went against her.
But, a New Jersey dog trainer said she drove five hours to speak up for Mrs. Barrett on Thursday.
Jacqueline Zinetti got emotional as she defended the breeder before the BZA.
Mrs. Zinetti, who has a 10-month-old Doberman from Canis Maximus, described the temperament of the breeder’s dogs “just what I had hoped for.” Her Doberman gets along with Chihuahuas and children, Ms. Zinetti added.
“These people know what they’re doing,” she said.
But, before Thursday’s 25-minute public hearing, BZA Chairman John Meadows read a prepared statement to remind audience members that the board could take only “land-use” issues into consideration for the permit.
Later, Mr. Meadows recalled the BZA’s February visit to the site and explained on of his primary concerns.
“I was nervous in a mini-van coming out of there,” he said of the steep driveway. “I don’t think VDOT (Virginia Department of Transportation) ever contemplated a commercial operation there” when it approved the home’s entrance.
Mrs. Barrett and Mr. Wilson said they have not decided whether to appeal the BZA decision in circuit court. They have 30 days to file a notice of appeal.
But, the attorney expressed disappointment in the BZA for denying him an opportunity to rebut neighbors’ comments about traffic, which he described as insignificant.
Although another attorney represents Mrs. Barrett in her federal lawsuit, Mr. Wilson suggested that the BZA decision strengthens her case for damages resulting from the alleged defamation.
Cassie · June 29, 2013 at 3:41 pm
In response to Michael's comments: First sir, thank you for defending our rights. We are privileged to enjoy freedom in America, but it is not unlimited and must respect the rights of others. Barrett does indeed have the right to own and operate a commercial kennel. But that right means business is conducted in an appropriately zoned commercial property. Our rights do not permit us to operate any business any place we'd like. The local school bus stops at the end of my driveway.....is it my right to open a gun shop or an X-rated video store on my property? Of course not, so why is this different? This individual has violated countay zoning regulations for years and only came under scrutiny when she opted to expand her operation. The proposed building may be intended to abate the noise, but the application also included numerous indoor/outdoor kennel runs. If the dogs are outside, the building will do nothing to abate the noise.
Barrett has not been denied any rights. Rather, she is being urged and hopefully will ultimately be forced to follow the law and comply with zoning regulations, that each of us is expected to follow.
And in terms of her "American Dreams", once again.....what about the "American Dreams" of the families living near her? Their dreams and quiet times are infringed upon in their own homes. And the homes they own....a big part of "American Dreams" are worth far less than they should be now.
Finally, based on both the AKC and the humane inspections conducted one could conclude that Barrett is denying the rights of the dogs in her care....simple rights that all animals deserve: necessary medical care, clean water, appropriate food, a clean environment, and ample room to live a healthy life.
Country Lover · June 17, 2013 at 10:40 am
Why sould the neighbors be forced to put up with the additional traffic and noise generated by a kennel business. Come on, lets be real, no one is lining up an saying put a kennel in my lot next to me. A kennel decrease the value of their properties. These people have made it their choice to move to the country to enjoy the peacefullness and solitude. There is no way you are going to eliminate the noise of barking dogs and once one starts, it sets off all the others in the neighbor hood. Lets not open up our rural neighbor hoods to businesses
Michael · June 10, 2013 at 9:01 am
Disclaimer: Yes, there should be some guidelines to regulate the noise, dog waste, and the overall humane treatment of all animals. If she wants to afford the improvements needed to do these things, then what right do we as fellow citizens and government officials have to deny her or anyone else.
I fail to understand why the powers to be, in this case the BZA, are not more "objective", "realistic in their views", and "American" in their thinking and ultimate decision making.
Yes, Mrs. Barrett has operated her business without zoning approval and she was cited for it and now is trying to come into compliance. Yet, our close minded BZA and her neighbors are denying her "American" right to own land and use as she sees fit.
As far as someone being "nervous" coming and going from the driveway, that person has a choice to not frequent Mrs. Barrett's home and kennel operation. Come on, how long has she and whoever owned the property before her been coming and going from that entrance? How long has she been operating her business with that entrance already? How hard is it for VDOT to put up a Caution sign of an impending entrance? It's done all the time. A kennel of her size is not going to be like a Wal-Mart or 7-Eleven.
On the noise subject, I agree, dog kennels can be noisier than a pig farm, but her neighbors have now made her aware of that issue and she is proposing a building to offset the noise issue. And by issuing a special permit to her, the times the dogs are allowed to be in the outside kennel runs can be managed. I agree, if I've worked all day and now want to sit outside my home and enjoy the peacefulness of the country side; I don't want to hear constant barking. But let me remind you, "WE LIVE IN THE COUNTRY" folks and there are animals. Has anyone issued these damn cicadas, their sound is driving me nuts.
For a human being to be objective, like the people that serve our community should be, is difficult I know, but they must force themselves to be so. There is no "good" and "substantial" reason for Mrs. Barrett's application to be denied. The entrance can be fixed, though I don't see the need. The noise can be regulated. The care of the animals can be monitored. And for the other issues, let's work with her and come up with a workable solution that is not harmful to humans, animals, and our environment. I served in our military to defend America because I believed we were good people, fair people, and people who cared about others, not just our own selfish interests. Thank you for reading.
Now that you've denied her the right to build a specially designed building and allowed her to earn money to pay for these improvements and you've also denied the possibility for her to get a special use permit, you've lost the right to regulate the hours the dogs can be outside barking. Come on government officials and neighbors, let's show a little compassion for others and their rights that we too should be able to enjoy in what we call this great country of the United States.
I hope she appeals this, takes you to court, and wins. Unfortunately for most of us citizens of Fauquier County, we don't have access to tax dollars to defend our interests, so we have to just give up on or American Dreams.