Editor's Note: In the print version of this article, Councilwoman Jane Crimmins was quoted as saying the town received “negative feedback from neighbors and the Westchester Land Trust and Lewisboro Land Trust.” Crimmins said she misspoke. The Lewisboro Land Trust did not weigh in on the proposed dog business. It is the Westchester Land Trust that owns the neighboring property. The quote in this article has been edited to remove mention of the Lewisboro Land Trust.
SOUTH SALEM, N.Y. – In a 4-1 vote, members of the Lewisboro Town Board voted against a zoning amendment that would have allowed Active Dog LLC to use a 50-acre plot of land on Route 123 near Smith Ridge Road as a dog exercising area.
The vote, which occurred at the July 9 meeting of the Town Board, stemmed from concerns raised by residents opposed to Active Dog’s presence in the area.
“This addition to a residential neighborhood is, as far as I can see, not something that the rest of the neighborhood is going to see as a positive enhancement,” said Councilman Daniel Welsh during the meeting. “We think that neighbors have worked hard to be civil in their responses to this, but it’s been pretty much uniformly negative.”
Councilwoman Jane Crimmins also expressed her reservations about the exercise area.
“I really wanted to be pro-this idea,” she said. “But as the process goes on, it’s been only negative feedback from the neighbors and the Westchester Land Trust...
Eric Bleile, the owner of Active Dog LLC, who had been working on obtaining permission for the use of the land since September of last year, was disappointed at the decision.
“I spent about $18,000 in lawyer fees and a year of my life on this,” he said. “And well over 100 hours talking to people, going back and forth trying to make this work.”
He also called into question the neighbors’ motivations for wanting to keep Active Dog off of the land.
“This piece of land has been there for eternity, and nobody monitors it,” he said. “The person who owns it now does not watch it, so everybody has this free piece of land to go on and use as they will. If it was someone buying a house, then there’s nothing they can say, because that’s within the town code. But what I was trying to do was something unique and something cool, and of course they’re going to make a stink about it because they want to keep that land for themselves.”
Although he also was not in favor of the exercise area, Councilman John Pappalardo said he wanted it known that the board’s decision was not reflective of their views on small businesses.
“I want to encourage small businesses,” he said. “We just have to balance it with what’s important for the town.”
Councilman Tony Goncalves also echoed Pappalardo’s sentiments.
“It was a great idea,” he said. “But you have to look at the community as a whole and take that into consideration.”
Bleile said it’s for him to “move on.”
“I’m disappointed, but I also believe in fate,” he said. “So, I guess this just wasn’t meant to be and I’m going to move on.”