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Board of Adjustment Minutes 05/28/2008
MAY 28, 2008

Continuance of Case # 218-Beverly Paul under Article III, Section H. Obnoxious Uses against property & owner of Map 2 Lot 29, Yelena Levitina pertaining to continual barking of Caucasian dogs and the safety of the neighborhood.

Members Present:  Edward Meehan, Chairman; Stephen MacCleery, ex-offico; David Dobson; Mark McIntosh; Ben Brown.
Alternate:  Richard Millette

Public:  Beverly & David Paul, Yelena Levitina, Frank Lemay.

The BOA received 7 reports from the Police Department in regards to barking complaints as well as 1 report pertaining to the dogs being loose.  The reports date from 7/23/07-5/10/08.  As there were no comments from the public in relation to the police reports the public hearing was closed for board discussion.

Ben Brown-Felt he did not find much damning evidence in the reports.  The barking was neither confirmed nor denied.  In the last report it talks about forfeiture of the dogs.  There isn’t a whole lot more in the reports than what was heard at the original public hearing.
  If RSA’s are in place, why are we here?  Why didn’t the police take the dogs away?
  After further discussion, there seems to be ample evidence that noise is an issue, sustained barking for more than _ an hour.  Guidelines should be given for the police.  This needs to be taken more seriously.  
   The dogs have been out once in a year, so fencing seems adequate.
  Feels it is the responsibility of the owner to prove the agricultural aspect and the number of dogs being used for that purpose.

Mark McIntosh-Based on the reports the barking could be coming from anywhere.  It is also noted that the dogs barked when the police visited the property.  
   The one time they were roaming the neighborhood was because of the fast melting of the snow and the gate not being adequately secured.  (According to police report it was secured with a dog leash)

Steve MacCleery-Some of the dogs are apparently guarding livestock but not all 18 of them for 3-4 sheep.  Even with agriculture aspect, not all the dogs are working dogs.  They don’t all qualify under that context.  He feels the biggest concern is the safety of the neighborhood.  There are still best management practices with agriculture and safety is the number one issue.  
   Several of the dogs have been loose at least once.  Even in her application for adoption there is fair warning about the aggressiveness of this breed.  It is the responsibility of the owner to take care of safety concerns and have adequate fencing and enclosures.  Fencing should be around the perimeter of the property.
  In this state do we have certain breeds of dogs that are recognized as guard dogs?  He feels the board could make a ruling on the dogs that are not guarding livestock.
  In his opinion there was not conflicting testimony between the public that come forward at the previous public hearing and the submitted police reports in regards to the barking issue.
  The BOA is allowed more leeway than a court when it comes to testimony that is given from other sources.  The cases sited about this same matter in another state are almost exactly as the charges here.
  The noise-nuisance, safety concerns could be addressed with fencing that the dogs could not see through.  Have restrictions the owner has to abide by or dogs would have to be removed.  This is a unique situation because an average household doesn’t have this many dogs.
  You might feel differently about the safety issue if you lived in the neighborhood.

David Dobson-Struggling with the agricultural aspect.  If you live in the RA zone you have a right to have animals.  Where is the fine line?

Richard Millette-Was less concerned for his safety when the dogs were loose because he wasn’t challenged by them when they were in his yard.  He reported that the dogs barked for about 3 hours this past Sunday and were at it again on Monday.  He feels this is a nuisance.  The more dogs on the property, the louder the barking.  He questioned if the sheep, or whatever animal the dogs were guarding, got loose how defensive are the dogs going to be?
  The number of calls, complaints and responses made to the property speaks volumes about the nuisance.  Apparently, the matter hasn’t been cleared up yet even with police visits.
  What is the density of the property?  Are there a number of dogs you can have versus the number of acres they are on?

Ed Meehan-The issue is the noise/barking.  Usually, house & renter insurance dictates the number of dogs you can or can’t have on your property.  These are guard dogs and if they get loose he doesn’t feel they would become pack animals.  Questioned the number allowed for guarding farm animals.  Doesn’t feel the bark collars work properly unless the hair is shaved where the collar makes contact.  Dogs can go over a 6’ fence with no problem.  Feeding raw meat is the best thing for dogs.  Guard dogs tend not to attack if they get loose.
  Owners of kennels that he knows are always home with their animals, this owner isn’t.  If they are trained to be guard dogs they shouldn’t be barking for up to 3 hours at a time.
  With sheep, the fencing is only adequate to keep them in, not the dogs that are guarding them.

Ben Brown moved that there is ample evidence of a noise issue in this neighborhood due to these dogs based upon testimony as well as the number of submitted police reports.
For this reason the BOA finds that under RSA 466:31 II. (b) that these dogs are being a nuisance and we encourage the Police Department to address this nuisance to the fullest extent of the law upon the next occurrence of a sustained period of barking.

We further encourage the Police Department to consult with the Building Inspector and/or professionals to evaluate the safety of the dog enclosure for adequate containment.

Finally, we encourage the owner to submit a plan to the animal control officer in regards to persistent barking issues and corrected safety issues regarding the containment of the dogs.

Ed Meehan seconded the motion.

David Dobson – Yes
Ed Meehan – Yes
Steve MacCleery – Yes
Mark McIntosh – Yes
Ben Brown – Yes

Motion carries 5-0.

Ed Meehan & Mark McIntosh were elected Chairman and Vice Chairman respectively for the ensuing year.

Respectfully submitted,

Holly MacCleery, Secretary

Edward Meehan, Chairman
Chichester Board of Adjustment

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