The Zoning Board of Appeals today approved a "doggie hotel" for a parcel between E. 1 and E. 2 streets that will feature 24-hour dog care, including physical and hydrotherapy.
Nearby residents opposed Fenway Bark, saying it would mean increased noise, odor and traffic. One resident said he'd been planning to sell his house to raise funds for care of his handicapped son, but ever since word got out, he hasn't been able to get a single South Boston broker to show the house because nobody wants to look at a house next to a kennel.
Because of their opposition, the mayor's office and the offices of City Councilor Bill Linehan, state Sen. Jack Hart and state Rep. Brian Wallace all opposed the facility. Wallace's office accused Fenway Bark of using "intimidation tactics" through phone calls and e-mail to neighbors.
But board members noted the building on the property used to be used for printing and that the only reason ISD issued a stop-work order on the renovation of the building for a kennel was because of "interim" zoning regulations adopted 11 years ago. Board member Michael Monahan said the owner had the right to use the property for some commercial use, especially one that would employ up to 40 people, and that if residents didn't want a printing plant and objected to another plan to build condos on the land, then they were going to get a kennel.
The project is still subject to a design review by the BRA and another zoning-board hearing on proposed parking lot. After the meeting, some residents spoke of appealing the board decision in court.
Proponents, some of whom live in South Boston, said Fenway Bark would be a badly needed resource for local dog owners. One said that when he travels, he now has to go all the way into Dorchester to board his dogs and that while that facility is OK, he has to pay to get his dogs clean because they play in the dirt there. John Moon, of New England Assistance Dog Services of Princeton, said the kennel would be a boon to veterans and people with guide dogs.
Fenway Bark lawyer Richard Lynds said the building already has thick walls that would screen out noise and that the interior would employ a special under-carpet sweeping system to collect wasted for removal two or three times a week.
Neighbors, however, said the walls were nowhere near as thick as Lynds said and that barking would be carried into the neighborhood through the building's tin ventilation system.
Lisa Ballard, who lives right next door to the building and has two young children, said she's also concerned by the number of cars coming and going to pick up pets.
"This will affect our lives," she said. "Every single day."