After a variance to allow for four or more dogs to live at one property within the Villages of Oak Manor neighborhood was continued at the Board of Zoning Appeals Sept. 11 meeting, BZA members voted down the petition, 4-1, at its Oct. 9 meeting.
One of reason the BZA allowed a continuance was to encourage the petitioner, Julie Robertson and her lawyer, to speak with the Homeowner’s Association to reach a compromise. The meeting was scheduled and canceled, then rescheduled for Oct. 10. As a result, a compromise was not reached as of the meeting.
When presenting, Robertson’s attorney Gary Sallee cited a 2008 Indiana Court of Appeals case in which a family was selling fireworks outside of what the ordinance allowed. The court found the length of time in which the family operated the business to be suitable to satisfy the variance.
BZA member Dave Schmitz countered the example by saying many people knew the fireworks business existed because the business marketed itself as such, whereas many people did not know Robertson even owned dogs, as stated by Sallee’s testimony.
One issue residents discussed at the Sept. 11 public hearing was being unable to use their backyards and patios due to the smell in Robertson’s yard.
“Julie has had her backyard re-sodded, redesigned and she has, instead of cleaning her yard on a weekly basis, she has cleaned it every day,” Sallee said. “Some of the neighbors here last time spoke of aroma issues, and that they couldn’t use their yards. We can either tell you or show you evidence that those people all have used their yards since then.”
Sallee said he believed the only issue in the neighborhood was the emotions of the parties on both sides.
The variance would have allowed Robertson to remain on her property with her dogs for two years, after which time the variance could be re-evaluated or some of her dogs may have died, bringing her into compliance.
The majority of BZA members felt several of the standards required for the variance were not met in denying the petition.