MEDFORD — Any proposals for dog day care centers will be approved on a case-by-case basis to avoid a required 200-foot setback from other businesses, the City Council decided Thursday.
The council voted to change the city code to allow a business owner the option of applying for a conditional use permit to lessen the setback requirement for a kennel operation.
Robert Dudley, a 46-year-old Medford resident, has hoped to open a dog day care center near other businesses, but he said the 200-foot setback makes it almost impossible to find a location for his center.
Dudley has argued that a dog day care center, which would operate during the day, would be different than a 24-hour kennel.
Dog day care centers are popular in other areas of the state and often are situated in strip malls and close to other businesses.
Dudley's proposed center would keep the dogs active all day, which he said would generate less noise from barking.
In January, The Medford Planning Commission worried that a dog day care center could generate complaints from nearby businesses, finding the 200 foot setback requirement for kennels is also generally appropriate for daytime centers.
The planning commissioners worried city officials might be setting businesses up for failure if the day care generates noise complaints, particularly if it is situated less than 200 feet from other businesses.
Some of the possible conditions that could be placed on a business to lessen the setback include noise reduction measures, limited hours of operation and careful control of dogs in outdoor exercise yards to avoid excessive barking.
The sound of a dog barking or a baby crying can reach a decibel level of 110 — higher than a stereo at maximum volume but lower than a jet engine, according to a city study. From a distance of 200 feet, the decibel level drops to 64, about twice as noisy as light traffic.
Jim Huber, Medford planning director, said the city is basically treating a dog day care center the same as a kennel.
His department will write new language in the code that will be presented to the City Council at a future date for approval, he said.
A dog day care center wouldn't have to file a conditional use permit if it met the 200-foot setback requirement, Huber said.
Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.