SPRING HILL — Retirees Charlotte Furey and David Hitchcock want to provide a safe, secure place where travelers can kennel their pets without worries.
The proposed site, at Orchard Way and Christine Lane in southern Spring Hill, is a 2 1/2-acre parcel next to Furey's home where only a garage now stands.
The kennel would have space for 40 large dogs, 20 small dogs and 10 cats. The couple also want to offer services like grooming and training. But first they need county permission in the form of a special-exception-use permit.
On Monday, their application will be heard for the second time by the Hernando County Planning and Zoning Commission. The first hearing was continued last month in order to gather more information after Furey and Hitchcock drew numerous questions. They also heard just how much their next-door neighbor opposes the kennel plan.
Stephen LaFrance said he was worried not just for himself but for the neighbors who live far enough away that they did not receive formal written notice of the hearing but who live close enough that they will hear dozens of barking dogs if the permit is approved. LaFrance contends that the business, which would be in an area zoned agricultural residential, would lower not only his quality of life but the value of his property.
He brought along a real estate appraiser, Steven Nystrom, to testify during the July hearing.
While Nystrom couldn't say exactly how much the value of a piece of property might decline if a kennel moves next door, he said the Federal Housing Administration, which now has about 40 percent of the market for new loans, balks at approvals when hazards, offensive odors or noise factor in to a piece of property.
"Kennels are a negative factor" when it comes to establishing value in a neighborhood, he said. With the number of dogs planned for the kennel, he said, the barking "will be near constant, in all likelihood.''
LaFrance said he would not have bought his property had a kennel been there at the time. He also expressed concern because the county's nuisance-dog rules, which prohibit barking that causes "unreasonable annoyance, disturbance or discomfort to neighbors,'' do not apply to "dogs housed at commercial animal establishments."
Hitchcock explained that plans for the kennel include a 6-foot-tall vinyl fence and that each evening dogs would be brought into a building with foam insulation to muffle sound. He told the Times that he doesn't want the kennel to be a problem for neighbors. He and Furey simply want to create a shelter where people can bring their animals in case of a storm evacuation or when they travel, he said.
The couple have two rescued dogs and enjoy working with animals, he said, and want to have a first-class operation that dog and cat owners will be able to rely on.
"We want you to bring your dog to our place and, once you see it, you'll say, 'We wish we could stay, too,' " Hitchcock said.
Contact Barbara Behrendt at [email protected] or (352) 848-1434.