Doggie daycare center coming to Route 7 in Smithfield

Doggie daycare center coming to Route 7 in Smithfield

The Smithfield Zoning Board of Review on Aug. 28 unanimously approved a special use permit for a dog day-care facility owned by Michelle and Alex Ziemba in an industrial zone on Route 7 at 417 Douglas Pike. The building, which formerly housed Bradley Press, will be leased to the Ziembas.

SMITHFIELD - If the love of your life is polite, even-tempered and sociable, but craves more daytime companionship than your schedule permits, a solution will soon be at hand - as long as the significant other we're talking about is your dog.

A plan to establish a "full-service" dog day-care center, including an indoor dog park and grooming, drew no howls of disapproval Aug. 28 from the Zoning Board of Review, which unanimously approved a special use permit for the facility in an industrial zone on Route 7 at 417 Douglas Pike, between Limerock and Whipple Roads.

The petitioners, Michelle and Alex Ziemba, said they will locate the center in 10,000 square feet of space they have leased in a building formerly occupied by the Bradley Press.

The Ziembas, animal lovers who operate Night Sky Farm in North Smithfield, also own the Country Mutt dog and cat grooming salon in Scituate.

They told the board that the new facility, to be called Mutt Country, will not resemble a traditional kennel with outdoor dog runs, and that all activities will be housed indoors except for a fenced, outside area for supervised exercise.

Overnight boarding for up to two weeks will also be offered, they said.

Michelle Ziemba said dog owners will be able to choose from a variety of options from single-day walk-ins to daily visits over extended periods, but that no dog will be admitted until it is first temperament-tested for sociability and pre-registered. Un-neutered males will not be accepted, she said.

The single-visit price for day care, available between 6:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m., will be $28, according to Ziemba, but package plans will be offered at lower rates.

She said the dog park, in which owners can stay with their pets, will cost $15 a day, will be open from 4 to 9 p.m. seven days a week, and that a handler will be available at added cost for owners who wish to drop their dogs off there.

While the day care part of the operation will operate Monday-Friday, daytime boarding will be available on weekends and holidays, Ziemba said.

All dog breeds will be accepted, she told the board.

Ziemba said that in addition to rabies shots mandated by the state, she will also require immunizations for parvo virus, distemper, and kennel cough, and that owners must also show documentation for negative fecal parasites and for flea control.

She told the board that odors would be controlled with standard veterinary disinfectants and the use of wet vacuums, with liquids to be disposed of in an existing septic system, and that fecal matter would be double-bagged and trucked by commercial hauler from a dumpster to the Central Landfill in Johnston.

Solid waste disposal caught the attention of Board Chairman George McKinnon, who said he questioned putting such material into the landfill.

"My instinct says that this may not be appropriate and I need to have somebody tell me that it is," he said.

The Ziembas' lawyer, George West, said it's common in general for dog waste to go to the landfill and that the issue had been discussed with the town engineer, but that his clients would abide by the board's condition that the Engineering Department sign off on the practice.

Michelle Ziemba said the site is surrounded by commercial uses and that no residential units are nearby. There were no objectors at the public hearing.

Ziemba said she hopes to have the facility open this fall.

Earlier this year, the Town Council voted to allow animal day care, previously permitted only in large-lot R-80 and R-200 residence zones, in commercial and industrial areas, if applicants were successful in obtaining a special use permit from the Zoning Board.

Ziemba told the board that the operation would be overseen and inspected by Scott Marshall, the state veterinarian.

In another matter, the Zoning Board expressed annoyance at a request by Spino Realty, LLC, for a special use permit allowing an addition to a commercial building at 356 George Washington Highway - because the addition had already been constructed.

The board voted to allow the structure after a lawyer for the construction firm, John Garrahy, said the failure to apply for a permit resulted from a miscommunication within the business, and "We're here for forgiveness" for what was done without authorization.

The board, although rankled by the situation, granted the firm's requested variance from required side-lot setbacks of at least 50 feet, allowing instead a distance of 36.3 feet.

A land-use consultant testifying for the company said the masonry addition does not detract from the character of the surrounding area and cannot be seen from the highway.

Approval was unanimous, but alternate board member Stephen Wright said, "It's very difficult to understand how a commercial construction business didn't make sure it had the proper permits."

Member S. James Busam called the lapse "infuriating," and Chairman McKinnon deemed it "problematic."

However, Town Solicitor Edmund L. Alves Jr. said imposing any sanctions in the case is within the authority of the town's building official, not the Zoning Board.

The board made its approval contingent on removal of what McKinnon said were unauthorized containers and construction debris on the site.