A Woodstock couple last night cleared the first hurdle to obtaining permission to operate a kennel for dalmatians on their property.
The five-member Howard County Planning Board unanimously recommended approval for a 20-dog kennel on 10 acres owned by Stephen D. and Beth E. Winick in the 10300 block of Cavey Lane.
The panel endorsed the project despite opposition from a handful of neighbors who argued that the kennel would be a nuisance and lower property values in the Woodstock Ridge Estates community.
Mary Johnston was one of the opponents who vowed to appear at a Nov. 19 Board of Appeals hearing on the kennel proposal.
"We'll be back," said Johnston, who has lived in Woodstock Ridge Estates for nine years.
Although Beth Winick and her attorney, Robert B. Williams, would not comment after the meeting, they huddled outside with other neighbors to see if they could forge a compromise.
After 20 minutes of sometimes intense accusations and denials, Williams and D. Gregory Cole, president of the community's architectural review committee, exchanged business cards and agreed to call each other about a possible meeting.
Said Cole: "If they're willing to do things to satisfy the neighbors and the neighbors are OK with that, that's fine with me."
The Winicks have operated Save the Dalmatians kennel since 1986, a year after they bought their house. The couple's request for a special exception would, in effect, legalize the kennel.
The dispute over the kennel has been long and, at times, acrimonious.
Last year, the Howard County Animal Control Division fined Beth Winick $250 because the kennel had been issued nine citations in four months. The complaints ranged from barking to attacks on other pets.
Jean Bloom, a neighbor, filed seven of the nine citations. Bloom, who declined to be interviewed, testified before the Animal Matters Hearing Board on July 17, 1997, that dogs from the kennel had frightened her horses and attacked her dog.
In an April 4 letter to the Winicks, Bloom wrote that the stress from the attacks made her ill and forced her to resign her job at Bits and Bridles Saddlery Ltd., which Stephen Winick owns, in the Bethany 40 Center in Ellicott City.
"This long-endured problem has become a very dangerous situation -- which has forced me to take steps I have too long avoided," Bloom wrote. "For the sake of neighbor and employee/employer relations, I have been far too patient."
Johnston also testified that in February 1997, as she rode her horse on a neighborhood path near the Winick home, the couple's son, Seth, urged one of the dogs to "Go get 'em."
Homeowner Alice Bender, whose dog was attacked by two dogs from the kennel, said she is opposed to the facility because the couple built it without permits.
"They don't care about the neighborhood," said Bender, who has lived in Woodstock Ridge Estates since 1977. "They want to do what they want to do."
That attitude, Cole said, is what has hardened opposition against the kennel.
"The issue has been that they're not being a good neighbor," he said. "These things have gotten out of hand."
But the board agreed with a Department of Planning and Zoning staff report that stated that the kennel satisfied all of the technical requirements for a special exception.
Pub Date: 11/05/98