Special exception approved for Downtown DogFebruary 6, 2020
By ALLEN LAMAN
JASPER — Wednesday evening, a Jasper dog kennel was given a special exception to operate a new, larger facility in an industrial area on Jasper’s north side.
Downtown Dog — which currently sits on East Sixth Street near the Riverwalk — was approved by the Jasper Board of Zoning Appeals to use a facility at 2528 Cathy Lane. The business will move from its current location to the new spot.
“The building is really pretty perfect for what we need it for,” said Hannah Vollmer, owner of Downtown Dog. “It’s just an open room ... but no facility that we purchase is ever gonna be geared towards a kennel, so we have to build that up.”
Vollmer said it is hard to give an exact number of how many dogs the kennel will hold on a given day because those counts can vary. This is why she applied for a special exception.
According to the business’ Facebook page, Downtown Dog offers day care, grooming and boarding services.
Through the exception, the new site is allowed to accommodate more than 40 dogs. Vollmer estimated that the building will be outfitted with about 30 indoor kennels, some of which could be filled with multiple dogs from the same household. A fenced enclosure will surround the exterior space that the animals utilize during the day, and that space will not be used at night.
More than 50 people attended the BZA meeting. Some voiced their opinions on the matter — both in favor of the special exception and opposing it. Issues raised included concerns with the number of semis and vehicles that frequent the area, noise that could be generated by barking canines during business hours and more.
“Like I said, I feel like the building is perfect, but the location, I don’t think is perfect for what they want,” said Dustin Perkins of nearby EBN Industrial Supply.
Supporters disputed the above claims, arguing that industrial areas are inherently noisy places and testifying for the sound manner in which Downtown Dog operates.
“Both of these people started their business when they were in their early 20s, which is exactly what we are continuously talking about in this town,” Andrea Gramelspacher of the Dubois County Humane Society said of Vollmer and her husband, Heath. “So, I’d like to see everybody support them tonight because this is good for the community and it’s exactly what we’re asking this community to step up and do. And they did it.”
Late last year, residents who live near the current Downtown Dog location attended a Common Council meeting, upset with the sound of barking canines coming from the local business. One resident told the council that at times, the noise can escalate to a volume so loud that being outside or opening windows is unenjoyable for extended periods of time. Jasper Mayor Dean Vonderheide told the group that the city had investigated the issue and was in the process of rectifying it. Shortly after, the council tabled amending the language of an ordinance regarding animal noise so more discussion could take place.
After about 45 minutes of comment and discussions Thursday night, the zoning board unanimously approved the special exception. It was passed, pending the Vollmers meet the parking requirements and receive future BZA approval for an 8-foot fence variance for the outdoor enclosure.
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