Planners nix proposed dog parlor at doorstep to Wethersfield Commons

Posted 1/18/23

For more than two hours last Wednesday there were a lot of barking dogs, competing videos and dueling experts before the Planning Board. When it was over, by a vote of 4-3 the board denied master …

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Planners nix proposed dog parlor at doorstep to Wethersfield Commons


For more than two hours last Wednesday there were a lot of barking dogs, competing videos and dueling experts before the Planning Board. When it was over, by a vote of 4-3 the board denied master plan approval of a dog parlor on Jefferson Boulevard.

This was the continuation of the Dec. 14 hearing on the request to build the dog lodge and veterinary hospital adjoining the entrance to Wethersfield Commons. The lodge, designed to accommodate 150 dogs would be similar to the “dog resort” that the petitioner, Carlos Gutierrez and the Gutierrez family run in Miami.  The resort was designed to include an in ground pool for the dogs as well as an outdoor play area. As outlined by Bennett  Brooks, president of  Brooks Acoustics Corporation not only would the lodge buildings be built with sound insulation materials but the behaviors of the dogs would be closely monitored and controlled with a behavioral management program  and only when they demonstrated acceptable behavior would they get the privilege of going outside with the rest of the dogs.  Brooks reasoned this would result in less barking.

But any barking was the concern of many of the residents of the 493-unit condominium complex and much of the meeting held in the Veterans Middle School auditorium centered on how far noise travels and what the residents would hear. Brooks  said he conducted what could be the most extensive barking dog noise study, recording three barking dogs over five minutes. Just getting the dogs to ceaselessly bark that long, he said, was a challenge. Using that information he applied it to the proximity of the closest condos, concluding the noise would be well below the 60 decibel threshold set by city ordinance  and on a par with ambient noise.

Aaron Farbo, acoustical engineer with Cavanaugh Tocci for Wethersfield Commons reviewed the report, coming up with a different conclusion. The same could be said of the two videos. The one of the Gutierrez-operated  Somi Pet Resort and Dog Day Care in Miami provided a walk through of the complex showing happy dogs and cats in pristine facilities. The show stopper was the pool with dogs running in and out of the water in what could have been a canine aqua ballet.

Lesley Rich, president of the Wethersfield Commons Association who has a property in Miami also had a video he had taken on a visit to the Somi Pet Resort. It opened with scenes of an industrial area with traveling trailer trucks and a stream of cars.

“It’s a beautiful location,” Rich said of the resort clearly recognizable from the prior video, “in a heavy industrial area.” He said the resort couldn’t stop the dogs from barking and to prove his point walks along the fence line that is screened from the dogs that surely were only a few feet away. He recorded a canine chorus.

Although a permitted use under the general industrial zone, Rich said a dog parlor would not be appropriate.

He said the barking sound would carry and be “very disturbing to our community.”

If found in compliance with the comprehensive plan, the Gutierrezs said they would reduce the outside areas and eliminate a section of dog runs closest to the condos.  Had the board taken that step, the Gutierrezs would have had sought preliminary plan approval where the proposal would have been outlined in greater detail and required Department of Environmental Management and Department of Transportation approvals.

But the proposal didn’t make it that far. Resident Marcia Beagan made an impassioned plea to deny the application focusing on the impact of traffic. While Sanford Resnick, attorney for the petitioner, pointed out that the traffic pattern for the development was rerouted to discourage cut though traffic to and from Metro Center, Beagan reasoned few would follow the pattern. She feared for the safety of who walk the neighborhood.

“We have a walking community,” she said angrily. And  she disputed the reasoning of those promoting the dog parlor as a compatible use of the land. “They don’t live here, we do.”

 “To construct a facility, such as the one proposed, will be an intrusion for all and will invade our peaceful domain,” resident Nancy Mushlin told the board. “This is not conducive to the quality of life which we expected when we purchased the property. The construction alone will be intrusive and will have an environmental impact on our surroundings, the wildlife, and tranquility of our home.”

 Board member Benny Bergantino made the motion to approve the dog parlor. It was seconded by Steve Catalano and gained the vote of Kevin Flynn. In voting against , Board Chairman Philip Slocum said he is basically concerned  in complying with the comprehensive plan and the protection of the community. “There’s too much density in this plan,” he said.  In addition to Slocum, Cynthia Gerlach, Michael Penta and  Linda Polselli voted to deny.

dogs, parlor, Wethersfield


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