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Ruff ideas

Zoning and hearing board approves dog park exception

Photo provided to the Times Observer This schematic of a proposed dog park was before the Zoning Hearing Board for a special exception — which was unanimously granted on Wednesday.

A proposed dog park has jumped a significant hurdle.

The Warren County Zoning Hearing Board on Wednesday granted a special exception for the Woofington Dog Park with a proposed location adjacent to the Warren County Visitors Bureau in Starbrick.

Rocco DelPrince, president of the dog park organization’s board, said that they have been “working very closely with the Warren County Visitors Bureau to subdivide their property.” That action would create a 1.5-acre parcel to the west of the Visitors Bureau building.

He explained that the fences for the park would be five feet high and that the park would be broken into three separate, fenced sections.

DelPrince described the park as “another amenity for a specific community of people who want to add a safe place for dogs and themselves to get exercise.

“We’ve had it designed professionally… We have a strong community of dog people here in Warren County.”

He noted the proposed location is “in a place that is not too far off the beaten path,” and is “really a large space that is otherwise not used.”

Zoning Officer Mike Lyon noted that “dog parks are an allowable activity in almost every zoning classification” and described a special exception as “an allowable activity… with the blessing of the zoning hearing board.”

He said the county has no concerns over the application.

Discussion during the hearing largely focused on items of concern raised by the public and not issues specifically pertaining to the zoning designation.

Those concerns include traffic and parking concerns along River Road, where DelPrince said there will be an entrance to the dog park to make the park handicap accessible. He said they expect the “majority” of people using the lot to park at the Visitors Bureau lot off of US 6.

Lyon noted that hours of operation are restricted by the ordinance from dawn to dusk.

Additional concerns included the rail line in the area, large trucks using the end of River Road as a turnaround, traffic on private property, the swampy nature of the ground as well as concerns about dog behavior.

DelPrince said that they intend to require vaccination records for people who wish to utilize the space.

Board member Ed Atwood cautioned that the discussion was “hashing out stuff we ain’t supposed to be hashing out.”

“Warren County is about 50 years behind on a dog park,” he said. “What you have to do with the road and parking (is) get Conewango Township as a partner…. They have a responsibility here, too.”

“I hear all of the concerns here,” Board member Dennis Johnson said. “Those are Conewango Township issues. We’re not here to address… those particular issues.”

A motion to approve the special exception was granted unanimously.

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