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Dog boarding facility finds new home in Downers Grove

A dog boarding facility is coming to Downers Grove, despite discontent expressed by residents at the Downers Grove Village Council’s May 16 meeting.

In a pair of 5-2 votes, Village officials approved a special use with an amendment limiting the number of dogs allowed on site. Commissioners Nicole Walus and William Waldack voted it down.

In a 2-5 vote, the council failed to pass a proposal with an amendment restricting the dog boarding facility to indoor use. Walus and Waldack were the dissenting votes.

The agreement between the Village and Pete & Max Resorts stipulates that 94 dogs can housed inside the facility at any one time and 35 in the outdoor play area.

Pete & Max Pet Resorts will occupy the former Walgreens site at 7221 Lemont Road.

Attendee Nola Armento, of Downers Grove, recognizes the concerns raised by residents in recent weeks, and sought to share her professional experience working as a realtor for more than 40 years.

“I have a lot of friends and clients in the area that were talking about [this proposal,]” she said. “Being a realtor for so many years, there aren’t too many kennels and boarding places with that many dogs that don’t back up to either railroads or warehouses, or as the one speaker suggested, the new Doggie Depot going into the old piano building, which is an excellent location.”

Armento said though it’s hard to say how much the proposal could affect residents and property values, her experience is that reason for concern is valid.

“I know it’ll affect the amount of showings and the amount of people that may otherwise be interested in that neighborhood,” she said.

Commissioner Bob Barnett disagreed.

“You got to realize that’s all speculative stuff, ” he said. “It really is. It’s very hard to quantify that.”

A number of other residents spoke out against the proposed special use for the dog board facility citing concerns for the outdoor play area and potential harm.

Marvin Schaar, of Downers Grove, referenced other dog boarding proposals reviewed by the council and said this petitioner’s application is unlike the two most recent requests.

“In its application, the petitioner has tried to say that it is just like these other cases,” he said. “On Exhibit A of its petition it says and I quote, ‘Nearly all of Pete & Max activities will be conducted indoors.’ But unlike 63rd street, which has only an indoor play area, and Doggie Depot, which has four indoor play areas and one small outside play area, Pete & Max are planning two play areas—one outside and a smaller one inside. The preponderance of activities will be outside.”

Schaar said it’s important for the council to look outward to surrounding communities to gauge concerns for such special uses and the actions other officials have taken.

“I mentioned last time [at the Downers Grove Village Council’s May 9 meeting] in Hinsdale of March of 2017, there was a proposal for a special use for a dog boarding facility,” he said. “The Hinsdale Board of Trustees expressed concern about an outdoor play area, and as a result, the applicant submitted a revised plan with the outdoor play area removed. In Westmont, animal boarding is not even allowed as a permitted special use. In Darien, there are strict rules governing outdoor play areas, and presently, the Village of Darien has none of them. In rejecting this proposal tonight, the Village [of Downers Grove] would have good company among its neighboring communities in acting to protect its residents.”

In response to community concerns voiced for noise that could stem from the dog boarding facility, the petitioner submitted a redesign of a proposed outdoor play area. The changes consist of the fence enclosing the space to be heightened from six to eight feet and a double row of baffles overlapping each other.

Schaar said the revisions made to the proposal since the council’s May 2 meeting are not a “game-changer.”

“It is essentially the same plan,” he said.

Waldack recognizes the community’s concerns, and questioned if approving the special use for the dog day care is worth the sales tax generated.

“Is having an outdoor facility that advantageous to the Village?” he asked.

Waldack said the proposed use for the facility is harmful to residents residing or working in the vicinity.

“This will certainly not improve things,” he said.

Barnett said his concern was that Downers Grove officials did not have a solid path to remedying potential issues related to dog noise. The process of calling the police or code enforcement anytime dog barking creates a nuisance was not sufficient, he said.

Village officials explained that such matters, if they arose, would be brought to the council for review.

Barnett said this process should help alleviate some of the concerns raised.

“I don’t see with the remedies available to us, I don’t see how that shouldn’t be a potential that’s engaged and we see how it goes,” he said.

Commissioner Marge Earl said she has been stuck on this proposal and maintained that “as a dog owner and lover myself, living in a neighborhood full of dog lovers, the main key to keeping dogs quiet is to having them attended. A dog is going to bark like crazy if no one is there to stop it.”

Earl requested that officials include a stipulation requiring dogs to be attended when outdoors.

Earl admitted that at times, a nearby dog kennel in operation for more than 30 years has served as less than an ideal neighbor and said the facility operates using an old-style business model, one that differs from the proposal submitted by Pete & Max.

On Ogden Avenue, there’s another dog boarding facility in Downers Grove that is directly adjoined to a residential backyard.

“They work under the more modern ideals for dog boarding facilities,” Earl said. “They have none of the special conditions we are attaching to this proposal, yet we have received no noise complaints about this facility. In fact, the only issues we had is they and the neighbors both flood.”

While the special use approved gives the Village the authority to revoke a permit for failing to meet conditions imposed, the council has never been presented such a request under Mayor Martin Tully’s tenure. Matters of business, such as noise-related nuisances, would need to be reviewed by the council.

The proposal as amended by the Downers Grove Village Council allows the dog boarding facility to operate from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Increase to water rate approved

Residents will soon find a 1.1 percent increase to the rate at which they are assessed for water usage.

Such a measure as approved unanimously will charge the typical resident living within Village limits $103.04 bi-monthly.

The Downers Grove Village Council last discussed the possibility of amending its ordinance regulating water rates at its May 9 meeting.

The new water rate goes into effect after July 1.

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