Published in the July 14, 2016 edition


NORTH READING — The third time was the charm for Francine Coughlin and her efforts to relocate her dog care business to 211 Main St.

Coughlin failed in two previous applications to win approval of a special permit for her business, Barn ‘n Roll, at other locations. Coughlin withdrew her first application to locate the business at 48 Main St. after a child care business in the building raised objections and her second application, at 29 Main St., was rejected by the Zoning Board of Appeals.

Dog care and animal specialty businesses are allowed by special permit in the Highway Business district. Coughlin, a certified dog trainer, has operated Bark ‘n Roll in North Reading for six years with no complaints and had outgrown her current location at 24 Main St., according to her attorney, Charles Boddy.

As a resident of town and a member of the Chamber of Commerce, Coughlin has been looking to keep her business in town, Atty. Boddy told the ZBA last week, and the 211 Main St. site seemed “particularly well suited,” particularly opposed to the other locations, as Boddy mentioned. When the ZBA rejected Couglin’s application for a special permit at 29 Main St. last winter after a contentious hearing, Coughlin appealed the decision to court. But she withdrew that appeal when she found the 211 Main St. site, which she judged to be a better location.

In a nutshell, the ZBA agreed. The members voted unanimously to approve the special permit for 211 Main St. following a hearing that had non of the contentiousness that marked the last hearing when residential abutters objected to the business.

“It seems like this would be a win–win,” said Boddy. “You keep an ongoing business that brings business into town” and the site in question, between an auto body shop and a pool supply store, seemed a better location, Boddy said.

Boddy said the proposal is for Coughlin to rent the building’s second floor and convert that to the dog care center including training, dog day care and boarding. This occupy one stall on the lower level and eliminate a residential use on the site. The building was previously home to a karate studio.

Hours of operation will be Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. There will be an area in back where dogs will be allowed outside for exercise and part of their training, but Boddy said the dogs will never be unsupervised. “This is primarily a training facility. There will be dog day care and the boarding will be done for existing customers.” The fenced–in exercise yard in back will be double–gated and no dogs will be allowed beyond it without a least. The double–gating is to eliminate the possibility of a dog getting loose.

It was agreed the location has ample parking and one of the conditions attached by the ZBA was to designate an area in front of the building for pick up and drop off. Coughlin offers a van service so some of the dogs won’t be dropped off, they’ll be brought to the site in a van. Boddy said there would not be any excessive noise from the business.

Dog waste will be double–bagged and disposed of in a dumpster that will be emptied of periodically.

The ZBA had numerous letters in support of Coughlin’s business and unlike the 29 Main St. hearing there was no organized opposition from residents. Most of the 20 or so people at the hearing supported the application. The other tenants in the building were not there in opposition, “so tacitly they approve it,” said Boddy.

Cindy LaRose, 6 Plymouth St., who lives 200 feet away, voiced a concern about noise and possible smell from the dumpster as well as the number of dogs allowed in the outside area.

Coughlin said the maximum number of dogs outside at any time would be limited to eight and if any start barking, there’s always a person there to engage them and stop it. She submitted a sample contract that says dogs with barking problems are not allowed to stay. The dumpster will be emptied every two weeks, she said.

Pat Lee of Aspen Rd. supported Coughlin’s application, saying she is dedicated to being a good steward of her business and a good neighbor. “I know she is dedicated to running a good business there,” he said. “As an abutter, I’d be happy to have her in the neighborhood.”

On a motion by Jim Demetri, seconded by John Nelson, the ZBA approved the special permit with a number of conditions”

• Hours of operation shall not be later than 8:30 p.m., excluding emergencies, with no scheduled appointments on Sundays with the exception of pick up only, limited to the front of the building.

•  No dogs will be allowed outside at night past 8:30. No outdoor runs are allowed.

• Any animal feces will be picked up immediately and disposed of in the proper manner every two weeks. Noise eminating from the site shall be within the normal operating levels for that area.

• Up to 24 kennels are allowed for the purpose of overnight boarding.

Variance approved

In other business, the ZBA approved a variance from the setback requirements for an addition at 221 Elm St.

Home owner Matthew Chase explained his proposal to remove an existing, detached garage on the property and replace it with an attached two–car garage. The ZBA voted to grant a 21 foot variance from the rear yard setback for the construction of the attached garage and a special permit to continue the pre–existing non–conforming condition.