HALIFAX– Jennifer Choate, owner of Tarawood Kennels which is the subject of an excessive barking complaint, will be given a chance to implement a noise mitigation plan, selectmen say after weeks of collecting evidence.
At a meeting on Tuesday, August 30, selectmen unanimously voted to follow the board’s special investigator, Selectman Kim Roy’s ultimate finding of fact. She found that there was excessive barking at times at the kennel, corroborated by neighbor testimony and audio evidence.
The mitigation plan involves using sound proofing material both indoors and outdoors, adjusting the number of hours dogs can be outside, working with a trainer to discourage barking, and requiring a staff member to be outside with the dogs anytime they are outside, among other provisions. The plan is expected to reduce the noise by 7-12 decibels, according to a sound engineer hired by Choate.
Another provision is that no boarding or “puppy reunions” happen at the facility. Choate must follow the written permit as is, which allows her 50 adult dogs on the property and 26 litters per year. Puppies must be moved off the property within 6 months.
As the plan is being implemented, special investigator Roy stated, “I will be there from time to time to make sure it’s quiet…This is something we need to supervise pretty closely,” she said.
No mention was made of a possible error the ZBA made in 2012 in failing to notify neighbors when the number of adult dogs allowed on the property doubled from 25 to 50.
Selectmen Chairman Troy Garron stated that he wanted to focus on moving forward to, “hopefully make a decision that pleases the majority.”
“From my point of view, I don’t want to talk about what happened six years ago,” he said.
One point of contention was the number of hours the dogs could be outside, with neighbors originally pushing for 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Choate campaigning for 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Selectman Roy wanted further input from the public, but only the attorney for Scott Clawson spoke, saying that it didn’t really matter as long as there wasn’t barking.
Garron agreed at one point, finally turning to Roy and under his breath saying, “Kim, I don’t think it really matters.”
The hearing was continued to September 27 to give Choate time to make the necessary changes, after the board unanimously voted to accept Choate’s plan.
The board warned that everyone would be back in the same place if drastic changes weren’t seen.
“I think we have to give them [the kennel] a chance,” said Selectman Tom Millias, as the meeting ended.
“It’s never fast enough but I think we’re heading in the right direction.”