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Fence to protect pets allowed; family can foster shelter dogs

On paper, the Salisbury Township Zoning Hearing Board agenda looked mundane: two separate appeals for variances.

Yet behind the simple one-page document is a human story, or two stories, of township residents wanting to improve the safety and lives of pet dogs.

The one case at the Sept. 14 zoning hearing had to do with small dogs kept mostly indoors.

The other case involved large dogs kept in a yard.

After three hours of debate, questions and answers and deliberation, the township zoning hearing board reached separate decisions that satisfied the appellants and adhered to township ordinances.

David and Manuela Weis, 1415 Seidersville Road, wanted to operate “a dog kennel” at their residence, according to the zoning document.

The dog kennel use is not allowed in the R2 Low Density Residential zoning district Also, the kennel use would be 200 feet from an existing lot on an adjacent lot (143 feet provided) and on less than 1.5 acres (1.2 acres provided).

“When you have more than six dogs, it’s considered a kennel,” Salisbury Township Planing and Zoning Officer Kerry Rabold said.

Manuela Weis said three dogs would be fostered for three to nine months until adopted through Tiny Paws Rescue, Southampton, Bucks County. The Weis family has six dogs of their own.

“Having three dogs will not change the quality of the neighborhood, but it will change the dogs’ lives forever,” Manuela Weis said.

“We’re just looking to improve the lives of dogs that would otherwise be put to sleep,” David Weis said.

The Weis couple are volunteers and are not paid by Tiny Paws Rescue, Manuela Weis said.

“All the dogs are small dogs,” Manuela Weis said, who wore socks with images of Chihuahuas.

Nine residents attended the hearing. Two neighbors complained about hearing sounds of barking dogs. Another neighbor wondered what would happen if the property was sold with the kennel designation use.

One meeting attendee said, “All of her [Manuela Weis] dogs together maybe would add up to 60 pounds.”

“It’s not a kennel. It’s an accessory use,” Salisbury Township Zoning Hearing Board Vice Chairman Attorney Ian Baxter said.

Zoners voted 3-2 to allow the three dogs under a dimensional-use variance.

Also at the Sept. 14 zoning board meeting, Peter and Sharon Furbur, 750 E. Lexington St., appealed Rabold’s ruling of a second front yard at their corner property with respect to construction of a five-foot privacy fence (only four-foot picket-style fences are permitted in a second front yard).

“We have two Saint Bernards,” Sharon Furbur said. “Our current fence ... there’s no more repairing it. It looks horrible,” Sharon Furbur said.

“We live on a corner property. There is no impairment visibility,” Sharon Furbur said of the proposed five-foot-high white vinyl privacy fence.

“My dogs are taller than four feet,” Sharon Furbur said. Her dogs weigh 170 pounds and 140 pounds each.

“If it’s a four-foot fence, my dogs could go over it,” Sharon Furbur said.

“It’s from a security standpoint and safety for us and for the neighbors,” Sharon Furbur said of the zoning appeal.

“A picket fence doesn’t sound like it’s able to control a 170-pound dog,” Salisbury Township Zoning Hearing Board Solicitor Attorney Victor F. Cavacini said.

“There is a safety issue,” zoning board member Ronald Evans said.

“It’s a nominal change. I don’t think it’s going to change the character of the neighborhood,” Baxter said.

“I live in the neighborhood,“ zoning board member Joseph Kovach said. “I would like that we would provide some relief,” Kovach said.

Zoners voted 5-0 to allow a five-foot high privacy fence.

The Salisbury Township Board of Commissioners meets 7 p.m. Sept. 22 in the meeting room of the municipal building, 2900 S. Pike Ave.

The Salisbury Township Planning Commission meets 7 p.m. Sept 28 in the meeting room of the municipal building.