I’m writing to hopefully clear up some confusion and inaccuracies in Brandon Davenport’s Feb. 21 front-page article titled “Board Endorses Permit.” Some of the confusion is understandable—both Casey Schuhmacher and I, Jerry Schumacher, serve on the Dawes County Zoning Commission. His last name has one more “h” than mine.
We are friends, and many times have similar positions on issues that confront Dawes County residents. This time we were on different sides of the fence, but that wasn’t clear in the article. It was I, not Casey, who “expressed his concern regarding the ability of the couple to file for the special (technically “conditional”) use permit in their present zoning classification.”
With that in mind, I was the lone “no” vote when the board voted to recommend that the permits be approved by the county commissioners, but only the “yes” voters were noted in the article.
Mr. Davenport also reported that “so far Casey Schumacher (sic) of the Zoning Board, and County Commissioner Jake Stewart are the only two that have taken the couple up on their invitation (to visit).” On Feb. 11, (two days prior to the zoning board meeting, and after having made prior arrangements with Matt) I met Casey and former zoning board member, Don Mandelko, and we car-pooled in my vehicle to visit Matt Brodrick and the canines. Shelby was not home at the time.
What we encountered was not snarling, snapping, pit bulls lunging at the ends of chains, but 18 quiet, wagging, friendly pit bulls hoping for a pat and a scratch. And that’s the problem. They’re as nice as their owners. And it’s compelling to want to break the rules for them.
One of the main purposes of zoning regulations is to group uses and structures together that, experience has shown, can be compatible without negatively affecting the enjoyment, safety, productivity, or property values of adjoining or nearby properties. That’s why, of the six zoning districts in Dawes County, only two specifically list kennels (where 10 or more dogs are kept) as conditional uses. Those districts are the Agriculture district, where the minimum acreage is 80 acres and allows more space between uses, and the Industrial district, which according to the zoning regulations, the intent “is to provide for those activities which require more intense uses of land,” and for which there is no minimum acreage.
The regulations clearly state that “…conditional uses that are specifically listed in the district regulations may be permitted only after additional requirements are complied with…” The key here is that Matt’s and Shelby’s properties are, due to their size, which is less than 3 acres, located in the Residential Estate zoning district.
By allowing a conditional use permit for an additional 11 dogs (29 total) the county would be in direct conflict with its own regulations, which would both set a precedent for future decisions, and place it in likely legal jeopardy from those nearby neighbors who have consistently opposed allowing the expanded number of dogs.
People have a right to expect that their government will follow its own rules. The county commissioners were scheduled to make their decision Feb. 27th.
I hope this letter reduces some of the confusion generated by the February 21st article.