By Erin Achenbach
The Sunset Hills Planning and Zoning Commission voted unanimously this month to reject recommending a change to zoning for Y Bark Alone Doggy Day Care to increase the number of dogs allowed at the business from 50 to 120.
Residents near the dog day care facility, customers of the business and Patches Ellis, the owner of the day care, gave their comments at the public hearing held on the ordinance at the planning panel’s April 3 meeting.
“As far as increasing the number of dogs, the only time there would really ever be 120 dogs is the holidays … But during the holidays for us to even continue making money, as far as the other day cares, we need to be able to increase our number of boarding for those holidays,” said Ellis to the commission. “The increase would not only benefit us… But it also benefits the city of Sunset Hills. We contribute, we do everything we possibly can for the community. When the neighbor calls behind the street and says the dogs are barking, we bring them in, we stop them.”
Y Bark Alone opened in 2014. Ellis first applied for a conditional-use permit, or CUP, to operate a dog day care at 10390 Watson Road in 2012, but the petition was denied since the use was not defined in the city’s zoning regulations. A CUP was granted to Ellis in February 2013. Under the permit, only 50 dogs can be kept on site at a time.
Ellis said if she receives any complaints about barking, the business brings the dogs inside. She said the dogs aren’t left outside for long.
But that was challenged by neighbor Pam Spiros, who lives on Julius Northway, the closest street to the day care, and said she’s called five police officers to her house due to the noise. She’s called City Attorney Robert E. Jones from her patio so he could overhear the noise level. And she’s interrupted Mayor Pat Fribis over the 4th of July holiday to let her know the noise was unbearable.
“She’s told you a fairytale about the dogs barking,” Spiros said. “I don’t think they should be there in the first place… It’s very debilitating when you’re woken up and you wanna sleep but you can’t.”
Kirkwood resident Patricia Fleming spoke in defense of Y Bark Alone, telling the commission that she had been involved with them for six years.
“We wouldn’t take our dog to someone, to a place we thought was not run well,” said Fleming. “I’m just here to say I think it’s run well… I’m sorry for the neighbors’ troubles.”
Sunset Hills staff did not recommend approving the changes, citing previously mentioned concerns when the CUP was first issued about the number of dogs on the premises, as well as the parking situation with nearby businesses.