After a public hearing featuring feuding neighbors on Thursday, the San Joaquin County Planning Commission approved a use permit for Bill and Kate Montgomery to operate a dog kennel on Atkins Road between Lockeford and Clements.
According to county planner Mo Hatef, the Montgomerys have operated the kennel illegally for more than two years because they didn't previously apply for a use permit from the county.
The Montgomerys' neighbors, Paul and Tracy Matheson, told commissioners that dogs from the kennel bark at all hours of the day and night.
"It's unbelievable," neighbor Tracy Matheson said. "I can't even relax outside."
The Mathesons' residence is less than 200 feet from the kennel, according to their attorney, Michael Fluetsch of Lodi.
Planning Commission chairman Peter Johnson tried to focus strictly on the planning issues that the commission was assigned to deliberate. Several times, Johnson told people from both sides he didn't want to hear about the hard feelings between the dog kennel owners and their neighbors, nor did he want to hear about a lawsuit the Mathesons filed against the Montgomerys.
Charles and Carolyn Chatfield were also named in the lawsuit because they own the property where the Montgomerys operate their kennel.
The Mathesons are seeking an injunction forcing Bill and Kate Montgomery to cease operating their kennel off Atkins Road, according the Mathesons' attorney, Fluetsch said.
Johnson said several times that the Planning Commission's duty is to determine whether the neighborhood's zoning makes it an appropriate place for a kennel, rather than to hear about the lawsuit and how well the neighbors get along.
Fluetsch commended the Montgomerys for rescuing dogs that are at risk of being euthanized, but said the kennel operators shouldn't disturb any neighbors.
Kate Montgomery said she doesn't like barking dogs any more than her neighbors.
"I don't want to cause people problems," she said. "If I felt (the Mathesons' allegations) were true, I'd move."
Johnson and commissioners Miguel Villapudua, Stan Morri and Clem Lee approved the use permit to operate the kennel, while Linden resident Larry Hamilton, who represents the Lodi-Lockeford area, cast the lone dissenting vote.
Contact reporter Ross Farrow at firstname.lastname@example.org.