doggie daycare

Special exception granted for outdoor runs paves the way for Camp Bow Wow on Bayshore Boulevard

PORT ST. LUCIE – with the unanimous approval of a special exception use for outdoor dog runs by the City Council Jan. 27, a local businessman plans to repurpose an old Bayshore Avenue funeral home into an upscale doggie daycare facility.

Marc Baumgard, one of the principals of 4 Dawgs, LLC, showed Council members an artist rendering of how the one-story, 4,968-square-foot building at 1170 S.W. Bayshore Blvd. would look upon completion, as well as how the interior space would be divided into 46 separate kennels.

“We’re going to be operating Camp Bow Wow in Port St. Lucie,” he said. “This is a national chain: It was the first dog franchise and is basically the Starbucks of the doggy daycare world.”

Planner John Finizio explained that if the Board members approved the special exception use, the outdoor dog runs would be located under the carport at the former Young and Prill Funeral Home at the northwest corner of Southwest Bayshore Boulevard and Dwyer Avenue.

“Considering that the surrounding area is primarily non-residential, the proposed kennel with outdoor runs will not constitute a nuisance or hazard considering that most of the activities will take place indoors, and the outdoor runs will be adequately shielded from the surrounding area,” he said of the area where the hearses used to sit. “Noise was considered when reviewing this application, but the applicant has indicated the dog runs will be shielded by a fence and the landscaping.”

Mr. Finizio reminded the Council that the city’s Planning & Zoning Board had recommended approval of the special exception use for the outdoor runs during its Jan. 7 meeting with one condition due to the noise concerns expressed by the homeowner across Bayshore Boulevard.

“The outdoor runs cannot be used between the hours of 6 p.m. and 6 a.m.,” he said.

Both Vice-Mayor Shannon Martin and Councilwoman Jolien Caraballo then peppered the planner with questions related to the special condition requested by the P&Z Board.

“Is that because of the noise?”

“Yes, exactly,” Mr. Finizio replied.

“Don’t we have a noise ordinance” Ms. Martin continued.

“There is a noise ordinance, yes ma’am,” he emphasized.

For her part, Councilwoman Caraballo asked the city planner if the traffic noise from busy Bayshore wouldn’t help mask any potentially barking.

“That is, at least for most of the day, correct,” Mr. Finizio answered. “And of course, the hours of operation are limited to 6 to 7 o’clock at night – typically speaking, normal business hours – so nothing will be done in the evenings.”

“And obviously the dogs would be kept indoors in the evening,” Councilwoman Caraballo added. “They wouldn’t be outside when the road tends to quiet down.”

“That is correct ma’am,” Mr. Finizio confirmed.

Mayor Gregory Oravec admitted he’d first had concerns about the potential for excessive barking by the guests at Camp Pow Wow but felt reassured by both city statutes regarding continuous barking and the anti-noise measures being implemented by the applicant.

“There’s a criterion for a noise complaint as it relates to dogs,” he said. “I had this concern going into it, and the quality of the applicant’s application made me feel better about it. They proactively recognized it as a potential concern and are entering into the record testimony that they deal with it proactively.”

Mr. Baumgard then came to the podium to describe anti-noise measures required by the Camp Bow Wow franchise, including special fencing around the outdoor dog runs.

“There’s soundproofing in the building that Camp Bow Wow has us put in place as part of the construction and the remodel of the facility,” he explained. “Also, the PVC fencing that we’re required, it’s approved by Camp Bow Wow. It’s soundproof, eight-feet high and will surround this area.”

Although Councilwoman Caraballo had previously confirmed that indoor kenneling was a permitted use in the General Commercial Zoning along Bayshore Boulevard and the project wouldn’t have needed Council approval without the outdoor runs, she still wanted assurances that dogs wouldn’t accidentally end up in the roadway.

“So, when the dog is outside and in other parts of the facility, how do you ensure that it doesn’t run off and potentially end up in the road?” she asked.

Mr. Baumgard then described security measures, including a high-tech reception area.

“There’s only going to be one area that the dogs are coming into and going out of, [and] it’s basically like an airlock,” he emphasized. “The only way that a person can have their dog is if the owner themselves is in possession of the animal. We’re going to have indoor and outdoor video surveillance so there should be no way a dog can get out into the middle of the street.”

David Reed, the opposing homeowner facing the proposed kennel, expressed several concerns during the quasi-judicial hearing related to noise, drainage and the disposal of animal waste products.

“When the dogs are brought out and they have their waste, we want to know who picks it up and where does it go” he said. “Our question is, does it eventually end up in a dumpster or what do we do with it? When the dogs urinate, how do we clean that?”

Mayor Oravec also questioned that aspect.

“So, you pick up waste immediately?” he asked.

Mr. Baumgard emphasized that his planned Camp Bow Wow would utilize a hi-tech doggy doo-doo system.

“Everything’s going to be self-contained,” he explained. “The dogs will go outside, and the area that we are having enclosed is going to have a raised area with aluminum grates underneath it. On top of that – so that the dogs will feel comfortable urinating – there will be an Astro-Turfed area. So, it will filter down through and drain into the sewer system. In terms of solid waste, we will actually have patented mini-toilets. There will be workers responsible for picking up the waste and disposing of it into that area, and it will go into the usual city waste.”

“So, we don’t have to worry about a dumpster outside cooking pet waste in the summertime?” Mayor Oravec continued.

“I promise that will not happen,” Mr. Baumgard confirmed.

Councilwoman Stefanie Morgan then asked the 4 Dawgs, LLC principal point-blank about the regular operating hours for such a facility.

“Is that your normal business hours, or are you changing them because the Planning & Zoning [Board] recommended 6 p.m.?”

Mr. Baumgard emphasized that Camp Bow Wow headquarters preferred the hours of 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

“We’re altering them so that we can comply with the city’s request,” he said.

Both Councilwoman Morgan and Vice-Mayor Martin then expressed their adamant opposition to the P&Z Board’s special condition.

“I just didn’t want that to be a hindrance for you or your business,” the former said.

“I think the condition is too restrictive on their business,” Vice-Mayor Martin chimed in. “We have a noise ordinance in effect. If there’s any problem, any resident has the ability to call 911 and address it or file a code complaint. I want to take that off – it’s not necessary.”

Councilwoman Caraballo subsequently made a motion for approval without the special condition, which was seconded by the vice-mayor and passed unanimously.

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