Spot On Dog Hotel Denied By Fairfield Plan & Zoning Commission

FAIRFIELD, CT — A proposal for a dog hospital and hotel in Southport was denied by the Fairfield Town Plan and Zoning Commission Tuesday, after commissioners said the application failed to convince them to change existing zoning regulations to accommodate it.

During Tuesday’s meeting, commissioners said that they believed that the applicant, Spot On Veterinary Hospital & Hotel, has a solid, reputable business, but that 2269 Post Road was the wrong place for it.

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“I think [Dr. Philip Putter, owner of Spot On] worked hard to make this work,” said Commissioner Alexis Harrison, who made the motion to deny the application. “But approving this could have far-reaching implications for the town.”

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Fairfield’s zoning regulations allow overnight dog boarding, or kennel operations, in certain areas of town, but not next to residential zones. Spot On was proposing to go into a vacant, former Hyundai auto dealership, which abuts a residential neighborhood.

Residents objected to the Spot On proposal, namely due to the noise from barking dogs, and the potential smell. The facility would have housed more than 70 dogs overnight at the site.

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“The testimony from the applicant and public was substantial,” said Commissioner Lenny Braman. “But in the end, the applicant did not convince me that there is a need for us to change our zoning regulations.”

Dr. Putter, who has a similar facility in Stamford, made multiple changes to the Fairfield proposal to appease neighbors, but to no avail.

The final vote against the proposed dog hospital and hotel was unanimous. Commissioners held six public hearings on the application.

“Approving this would have solely benefited a single business owner, which I do not support,” said Commissioner Meg Francis, echoing the sentiments of other commissioners.

“There’s a reason why our regulations don’t allow kennels near residential neighborhoods,” said Commissioner Steven Levy, primarily alluding to the noise of barking dogs.

Following the vote, the audience of more than 50 residents in attendance broke out in applause.

After Tuesday’s meeting, attorney John Knuff, who represents Spot On, told Patch he had no comment.

In a statement to Patch, the Alliance to Preserve Peaceful Fairfield Neighborhoods Steering Committee, which opposed the proposal, said the group was grateful for the commission’s decision.

“We’re extremely pleased and gratified that the Fairfield Town Planning and Zoning Commission voted no tonight, citing our legal arguments, expert acoustic and public health risk documentation, and testimony about quality of life disruption,” the grassroots group said. “As a result of the unanimous vote, zoning protection against dog kennels abutting residential neighborhoods will remain in place all over Fairfield. We’re especially grateful to the 1,000-plus residents who signed our petition, testified at hearings and wrote letters and emails to TPZ opposing the two measures. As was stated at tonight’s hearing, this is the way the process should work. We wish Spot On well in their search for property better suited than 2269 Post Road. We will also remain engaged with the Town’s [Plan of Conservation and Development] update process, so we can make sure residential neighborhoods continue to be protected from development that does not align with the character of the wonderful residential neighborhoods throughout Fairfield.”

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