Crown Point council, residents bark over dog walking business

When Crown Point residents in the vicinity of a home in the 600 block of Omega Drive alerted city officials about an apparent dog walking/training business operating in their neighborhood, they required the owner to seek a special use permit to continue.

By upholding a Crown Point Board of Zoning Appeals 5-0 recommendation to deny the permit, the Crown Point City Council on Monday effectively executed a cease-and-desist order on the business, which was apparently operating illegally within a residential district.

Cheri Shanahan’s petition to the BZA sought to operate a dog training and kennel business out of her home, which city officials say is surrounded by land zoned residential on all sides.

Residents had noticed dog walking in the neighborhood, but did not realize there was an apparent business operating until a sign indicating such was hung over the Shanahan’s garage. Alerted to the situation, the city brought Shanahan and her attorney before the BZA.

The city provided letters from residents who argued against permitting the business, noting a variety of issues around noise — as well as safety should one of the dogs escape from the yard. One resident questioned if the business was registered with the city and reasoned the hardship the owner expressed was self-created. One resident addressed the council to note his objection.

Councilwoman Dawn Stokes, D-2nd, has been an outspoken advocate against a now-failed Indiana House bill that would have prohibited a municipality from enacting laws that would ban “puppy mill” types of businesses. She said that she did not believe the dogs at the home were being mistreated or that there was any unlicensed breeding occurring.

“The neighbors didn’t complain until about a month ago (when the sign went up),” City Planning Administrator Josh Watson.

Chief of staff Anthony Schlueter indicated that while the BZA and City Council’s actions weren’t an immediate cease and desist order, the property is in violation of its legal use. He said the city would give the owner a reasonable time to relocate the business before it must shut down at the current location.

The city council looked more favorably on a BZA recommendation to grant Nicolle Dillner a special use permit to operate her 413 Dance Studio in a B-3 district located at 1125 Merrillville Road. Dillner explained that the success of her business over the past six years has necessitated a larger space than the current location at 1926 Main St.

The council granted Dillner’s request — and also that of Gold Nest Property Inc. to build three two-unit townhomes on 3.4 acres at 1810 South Street, approving an ordinance to rezone the property.

Crown Point Mayor Pete Land and the city council honored the winners of this year’s Fourth of July parade. Cub Scout Pack 48 came in first place, followed by Oasis Pools in second and Midwest Elite Dance in third.

The parade included 104 entries and 24 sponsors this year.

Jim Masters is a freelance reporter for the Post-Tribune.

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