By. Brent Wilson, Field Officer
Currently a commercial kennel in Greene County must have 10 or more animals to operate as a business. For several years, officials have been reviewing this ordinance to decide how to become less restrictive.
In 2015, the Board of Supervisors asked the Planning Commission to review this issue and try to clarify the language. Since then, the issue has been studied by looking to see how other counties in Virginia handle this issue and even looking at how other states handle it. Issues that were addressed are the number of animals and the ages of the animals.
Last August, the Board of Supervisors voted to have the Planning Commission to propose changes to the zoning ordinance and make a recommendation to the Supervisors. The Planning Commission proposed having two levels of shelters – small being less than five animals and large having five or more animals. Again, this only applies to commercial kennels.
Planning Director Jim Frydl outlined the proposal and explained that this revision to the ordinance only applies to kennels run as a business. The selling of several puppies or kittens does not qualify as a business and would not be included under the revised ordinance. Also, owners that keep any number of dogs for hunting would not fall under this ordinance.
In fact, recently there have been no kennels operating as a business in Greene County. The revision to the zoning ordinance actually would encourage commercial kennels to operate with less than five animals being allowed by right in A1, C1, B2 and B2 zones. Up until now, kennels had to have 10 or more animals to be legal. Kennels with five or more animals will be allowed in the same districts with a Special Use Permit. Frydl explained that a SUP is proposed for the larger number so that a review of the specific lot and other issues can be made.
Frydl also explained that the Planning/Zoning Department is a complaint driven agency. This ordinance does create any authority to regulate non-businesses. The perception is that the county is trying to be more restrictive but in fact just the opposite is what would occur.
However, the 20 speakers during the public comment section of the hearing seemed very concerned that since there are no kennels under the current definition (10 or more animals) then why are we trying to fix the situation?
Other comments were that too much government interference affects people who have a litter of puppies.
One speaker complained that too many city people have moved into Greene County. Many of the speakers asked that hunting dogs and pets specifically be excluded from the ordinance.
The supervisors then discussed the issue and agreed that the proposed change to the zoning ordinance would allow more and smaller kennels to operate businesses. Again the clarification was made that selling from a litter doesn’t make a business.
Supervisor Dale Herring (At-Large) reconfirmed that this zoning ordinance would only apply to kennels that are being run as a business and that the less than five animals would make it easier to have a business.
Chairperson Michelle Flynn (Ruckersville) reconfirmed that under the new ordinance a person could have as many hunting dogs as they wanted. The one clarification from the proposed revision was to clarify that the kennel is “operating as a business”.
The revision to the zoning ordinance was approved by a 4-1 vote with Supervisor Marie Durrer (Midway) voting against the change.
Brent Wilson is the Greene County Field Officer for the Free Enterprise Forum a privately funded public policy organization. The Free Enterprise Forum Field Officer program is funded by a generous grant from the Charlottesville Area Association of REALTORS® (CAAR) and by readers like you. To support this important work please donate online at http://www.freeenterpriseforum.org