County commission debate over “kennel” definition continues

By AMY JONES / Associate Editor

COLUMBIANA — Members of the county commission took differing stands on how a kennel should be defined at a regular meeting Dec. 28.

The public debate began nearly two months ago at the Oct. 11 meeting when the commission first introduced an ordinance to define the word “kennel” in order to be able to regulate such operations.

An ordinance was on the table to be voted upon at the Dec. 28 meeting, but differences of opinion among commission members led to the tabling of the ordinance until the Jan. 24 meeting.

Commissioner Corley Ellis said he was “comfortable with the definition,” which currently reads: “For the purpose of this ordinance, a kennel will be considered as any combination of structures, pens, areas or enclosures, covered or uncovered, open or enclosed where dogs or cats are kept as an accessory or ancillary use.”

To operate a kennel, residents must have property zoned as agricultural or light industrial. If property is zoned as agricultural, the kennel must be at least 75 feet away from property lines.

Commissioner Robbie Hayes agreed with Ellis, saying “I really don’t have a problem with this definition.”

However, commissioners Larry Dillard and Tommy Edwards felt differently, with both pointing out concerns with over-regulation.

“To me, this is saying you’ve got to have 150 feet of space to have a pet,” Dillard said. “To me, having to define ‘kennel’ so we can enforce the 75-foot regulation is over-regulation.”

Dillard said many county residents don’t have enough space to have a kennel under the ordinance.

“I think we’ve gone too far here,” he said.

Edwards said he doesn’t think there is any one definition to adequately cover what a kennel is.

“I’m not sure I’ll be comfortable with any definition of ‘kennel’ because I’m not sure you can cover such a broad spectrum in any single definition,” he said.

Edwards said approving a definition could be an example of the commission overreaching, and could lead to the commission having to return to the discussion if there are more public complaints.

“Sometimes we try to over-regulate because of a minority situation and the majority gets affected by it,” he said. “This could cause another minority situation and then the situation will have to be readdressed.”

Hayes moved to table the ordinance until the Jan. 24 meeting. Commissioner Jon Parker was not present at the meeting, but the remaining eight commissioners voted unanimously to table the ordinance.