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The sole opponent largely having a change of heart, Woolwich councillors this week quickly approved an application for small dog-breeding kennel in Elmira.

Tuesday night’s decision clears the way for John and Janet Kroeker to house up to 20 small dogs for breeding purposes on their property at 1371 Listowel Rd. The couple plans to build a new facility to house the animals and run the operation.

Earlier in the process, the lone objection came from next-door neighbour David Schoenhals, who wrote a letter raising concerns about the potential for noise. He also raised the issue of setbacks from his home, a reading of the current ambiguous kennel bylaw making it appear the operation would have to be at least 150 metres away. However, with 20 or fewer animals, the requirement is 60 metres, with the kennel plan being well beyond that limit.

Sarah Goldrup of the township clerks’ office noted the building would be 106 metres from Schoenhals’ house, and more than 80 metres from the road, exceeding the standards set in the bylaw.

She added the township would be updating the bylaw to make the wording clearer to avoid any future confusion.

After submitting the letter to the township, Schoenhals had discussions with the Kroekers, who suggested planting more trees and shrubs to provide more privacy between their properties as well as to provide noise abatement. For similar reasons, the couple plans to build the outdoor runs on the far side of the building, away from the neighbour’s property.

“We’re looking to be good neighbours,” John Kroeker said in addressing council.

With that, Schoenhals said he was satisfied the couple would act in good faith to minimize any impact.

“I’ll let you decide my fate,” he told councillors in a humour-filled address.

Initially concerned based on Schoenhals’ letter – “I can see why the neighbour would be upset, I think.” – Coun. Murray Martin was on board with the neighbour’s change of heart.

“Now I can change my vote,” he laughed.

On the issue of possible noise issues, Coun. Larry Shantz asked about the process should there be any complaints, despite the measures the Kroekers plan to take.

Goldrup noted that barking dogs are a noise nuisance that can be addressed by bylaw enforcement officers. If a problem persists, fines could be applied. And, if the issue extends beyond that, council has the option to not renew or even revoke a kennel licence.

There are currently 11 licensed kennels in the township, evenly split between breeding and boarding, with a range of five to 50 dogs, and one boarding kennel with a special exemption for 165 dogs, Goldrup noted in her report to council.

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