Sled dog proposal in the doghouseThe Afton City Council denied approval of a proposed amendment to the city's kennel ordinance which would allow for a high number of dogs to be housed on a property. The amendment failed with a 4-0 vote. Council member Peg Nolz was absent.
By: Amber Kispert-Smith, Woodbury Bulletin
Afton resident Mille Porslid and her 19 sled dogs will be taking off for Alaska at the end of February for a four-month expedition with the non-profit education organization GoNorth Adventure Learning. However, when Porslid and her dogs return in the spring, they may be without a home.
The Afton City Council at its Jan. 18 meeting denied approval of a proposed amendment to the city's kennel ordinance, which would allow for Porslid to house her dogs on her property. The amendment failed on a 4-0 vote. Council member Peg Nolz was absent.
Additionally, Mayor Pat Snyder put conditions on the ordinance that Porslid has 60 days to remove the kennel and any dogs in excess of four. Additionally, Porslid has to be on the property at all times when three or more dogs are outside for more than five hours.
“I don’t think this ordinance is a direction we want to go,” she said.
Porslid has said she can’t stay at the residence if the dogs can’t. She told the council she has no other arrangement for the dogs.
Concerns over noise, groundwater, language
The major issue facing Porslid’s application is the number of dogs she is housing. Afton’s kenneling ordinance allows a maximum of six dogs on a property. Any more than five dogs used for training, grooming, teaching, among others, is considered a commercial kennel, also not allowed in Afton.
The amendments Porslid presented address the number of dogs, waste removal, noise regulation and outdoor housing.
Additionally the amendments state waste will be managed by composting. Porslid did maintain the requirement for a conditional-use permit to build an outdoor kennel.
Planning Commission Chairwoman Barb Ronningen said the Planning Commission decided to recommend denial of the amendments because they did not fit with Afton’s ordinances.
Council member Randy Nelson said it was the noise element that had him most concerned.
Council member Joe Richter said he was worried about potential future applicants.
“ I know you have a lot of support, however if we change the ordinance its open to anyone anywhere,” he said.
Porslid said that is why she chose to maintain the conditional-use permit requirement since it is at the city’s discretion to choose whether to allow such proposals.
Richter said it is not the City Council’s job to decide who should be allowed to build a kennel.
“It’s not my position here to pick and choose who has a more viable project — that's not the intent of ordinances,” he said. “
Richter said he would be more in support of the ordinance if it were restricted to the agricultural zone or to properties with larger parcels.
“It's infringing on the neighbors’ rights to enjoy their earned property,” he said.
Snyder said the noise and the potential for groundwater contamination, due to the dog waste, are the items that worry her.
“I've seen how difficult it is to enforce the noise ordinance,” she said.
Porslid said she has spent considerable time training her dogs to stop barking or howling the second she claps her hands. She also sleeps with her doors and window open in order to hear the dogs.
Options still open?
Even though the amendments failed, Porslid isn’t quite in the doghouse yet, although she’s close.
Palmquist made the motion during last week’s meeting to send the amendments back to the Planning Commission for review.
Ronningen said there were several commissioners willing to work on the amendments.
“There is a sentiment to look at it further,” Palmquist said. “But, I don't know if there is a solution.”
The motion failed 2-2 with Snyder and Nelson casting the “no” votes
Palmquist said he would like to reconsider the motion at next month’s meeting once they have a full council.
“We owe it to at least see if there’s something the Planning Commission can do,” he said.