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Baxter City Council: Council approves facility expansions for doggy day care

Baxter City Council members convene Tuesday, Nov. 20, to discuss the implications of allowing facilities on 8301 Industrial Park Road to be re-purposed for a pet day care. Gabriel Lagarde / Brainerd Dispatch

BAXTER—Plans are moving forward to transform the Ultra Paws site in east Baxter into a doggy day care facility after the Baxter City Council passed a bevy of resolutions during its Tuesday, Nov. 20, meeting.

The ordinance changes and conditional use permits approved would allow for the construction of facilities for dog day care, as well as measures to protect neighboring properties from possible nuisances associated with dogs, on 8301 Industrial Park Road.

Until recently, 8301 Industrial Park Road was the site of Ultra Paws, a pet apparel and gear outfitter in existence for more than 30 years, acquired by California-based corporation R2P Pet earlier this year. Tom Hice, the owner of Pampered Pets LLC, is in the process of purchasing the property.

Tuesday's meeting represented an official step toward repurposing facilities for pet care—namely, facilities to accommodate dogs in their kennel and play area needs, as well as enclosures that limit barking noise, noise-risk (such as visual triggers, like passing cars or other animals), and odor factors that often come hand-in-hand with dogs.

"We want a first-class facility and we want to be a role model going forward," Hice said during discussions.

The zoning ordinance amendment would allow pet day care and overnight boarding—primarily for cats and dogs—in an industrial office zone property. Ordinance-based conditions would include separation (or established distance) between the facilities and neighboring residential areas, an 8-foot-high solid vinyl fence, stipulations that animals are kept indoors for overnight boarding and the facility complies with the city's noise regulations for animals. A conditional use permit was included to address aspects of the property's intended usage.

Council member Todd Holman noted while there isn't an explicit intent to "stack animal waste" outside during disposal—as it's currently planned to remove canine feces with closed containers—there also isn't an explicit prohibition on the practice either, which is cause for concern.

"That's why I bring it up—is that I've seen facilities where, depending on the scale, saw dust or kennel materials and animal waste are pushed to the center of the building and kept outside in a pile until they're hauled away," said Holman, who suggested a stipulation along those lines might be included. "So I just want to make sure that isn't allowed."

City staff noted stipulations are already included to limit animal noise and waste odor. Hice said it's the intention the site will have waste removal pickups twice a week, instead of the usual once weekly pickup, to mitigate any odor issues.

After discussion and consensus from the council, it was agreed a stipulation to ban external storage of animal waste be included in the ordinance and city staff should be directed to formulate appropriate legal wording.

With the absence of Mayor Darrel Olson, the council voted unanimously to approve a number of associated resolutions—to adopt new ordinances and findings of fact allowing pet day care and boarding as a conditional use in industrial office zone property, as well as resolutions allowing conditional use permits allowing for an 8-foot fence and overnight boarding.