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Council sends dog kennel zoning amendment to Planning Commission
GB couple seeks to continue their dog boarding business
dog kennel pic
Larry Kurtz addresses the Great Bend City Council Monday night about the dog kenneling business he and his wife Jennifer run at 5908 Broadway, Miss Jenny’s Pet Palace. The couple has operated for two years but just learned they were in violation of city zoning regulations. - photo by DALE HOGG Great Bend Tribune

Great Bend City Council meeting at a glance

Here is a quick look at what the Great Bend City Council did Monday night:

• Held a hearing on amendment to the zoning regulations involving the operation of a boarding kennel in a residential district.

• Accepted the 2021 city audit report.

Sean Gordon with Gordon CPA said they issued an “unmodified opinion,” which is the highest opinion they can offer. “It reflects very well on the City of Great Bend,” he said.

He said there were no violations and they had no recommendations.

• Approved the Police Department/Municipal Court Building guaranteed maximum price of $7,790,591. Work should begin by mid September and be completed by next August.

The 20,000-square-foot facility will sit at 12th and Baker on what is now a city parking lot. 

• Approved a bid for the automated water meter infrastructure system from Zenner, which had the low bid at $2,461,631.70.

• Heard a report from City Administrator Kendal Francis. He focused on the 19th and Harrison reconstruction project (near the Great Bend Middle School) that will be completed in time for school to start this week.

An important note, he said, is that the intersection will become a four-way stop.

He also touched on the citywide cleanup effort running from Saturday, Sept. 24, through Sunday, Oct. 2.

• Heard a report from Christina Hayes, community coordinator and Convention and Visitors Bureau director. She focused on Party in the Park this last Saturday.

• Approved changing the date for the next council meeting, which would fall on Labor Day. Instead of Monday, Sept. 5, it will be on Tuesday, Sept. 6.

• Adopted the 2022 version of the Standard Traffic Ordinance. Each year The League of Kansas Municipalities (KLM) updates the Standard Traffic Ordinance for Kansas cities that routinely adopt the changes.

• Adopted the 2022 version of the Uniform Public Offense Code Ordinance. These, too, are recommended by the KLM.

• Authorized blocking off parking stalls on the north side of Lakin Avenue between Kansas and Main on Aug. 19-21 for vendors to set up and tear down for the Cross Winds of Kansas Bikers Church Blessed Bike Rally, authorized closing Lakin Avenue between Main and Kansas from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Aug. 20, and authorized individuals to stay overnight in Jack Kilby Square for security of the event on Aug. 19-21.

• Approved the serving of alcohol on the Great Bend Municipal Airport grounds on Oct. 15 for the Curtis Arnberger and Sara Hayden wedding reception.

• Approved for trash and refuse violations at: 1214 Madison St., Moses Properties LLC.; 1409 16th St., Richard W. Eubank; 3821 12th St., Kuhn Rentals LLC.; 1814 Adams St., Steven Favela; 505 Morphy St., Erika Elliott; 1427 17th St., Lori D. Jacobs; and 1508 Broadway Ave, Jason W. Boese.

A Great Bend couple is hoping Great Bend zoning regulations can be amended and allow them to continue operating a dog boarding kennel in their west Broadway residential neighborhood. This is a possibility after the City Council Monday night voted to initiate a change for consideration by the  city’s Planning Commission. 

A citizen complaint alerted city officials to the fact the current zoning regulations prohibit such businesses in residential areas. This means the couple’s city permit and state license (which they have held for two years) cannot be renewed.

“The bottom line is that these folks are running a doggie daycare dog boarding operation in a residential area which isn’t allowed,” said City Attorney Allen Glendenning. 

He said the issue was Larry and Jennifer Kurtz had gotten a city permit for multiple animals, which could mean pets and not be a kennel. This required and received the blessing of the Golden Belt Humane Society.

However, Glendenning said, these officials had no particular reason to check city zoning mandates. “It is understandable how this happened.”

“We did the right thing,” Larry said. “We did what was expected of us.”

The City Council Chamber was packed for this agenda item. Most in the crowd were there in support of the couple and their business.

The Kurtzes live at 5908 Broadway, which is zoned R-1 (single-family residential. Two years ago, they obtained a multiple-animal permit from the city and a license from the state to operate a kennel in order to board dogs for pet owners. 

The information provided to staff indicates they have been conscientious in attempting to comply with all applicable laws and operate in a fashion to prevent or minimize any negative effects on neighboring land owners.

However, the city received the complaint alerting them and the city clerk that current guidelines do not allow the operation of a kennel in R-1 districts (single-family dwellings). The clerk, therefore, notified the Kurtzes that their permit cannot be renewed this year, Glendenning said. 

The code allows the Kurtzes to request a hearing before the Governing Body. However, the Governing Body is bound by the regulations and it does not allow a kennel as either a permitted use or a conditional use, unless it qualifies as a “Home Occupation.”

In the current zoning ordinance, the definition of “Home Occupation” reads, “an accessory use to the residential use of the property, which is an activity carried on by resident members of a family with not more than two persons employed from outside the resident family.” 

The ordinance further reads, “there shall be no outdoor storage of equipment or materials used in the home occupation,” and “there shall be no noise, smoke, dust, odor or vibrations emanating from the property which unreasonably either annoys, disturbs, injures, or endangers the comfort, repose, health, peace, or safety of persons off of said property.”

It goes on to expressly prohibit animal hospitals, kennels and stables. This is the problem.

“So, the only way in which a dog boarding operation may be operated in a residential zone is if the regulations are amended,” Glendenning said. This could be done in more than one fashion, he said. 

The best method requires it first be considered by the Planning Commission at a hearing and a recommendation made to the City Council.

Under Kansas statutes, a general amendment may only be initiated by the Planning Commission or the Governing Body, the City Attorney said. 

Since both Larry and Jennifer are retired, losing the business “would be a major financial blow,” Larry said. 

If there was a complaint for barking, Larry would like to know who filed it. He said his neighbors are supportive.

As for barking, there are a lot of other dogs in the area. “It is hard to tell where the barking is coming from,” he said.

Now, the matter will come before the Planning Commission which will hold a public hearing. The commission will then make a recommendation to the council.