Couple promises home-style pet sitting business

Sarah Marceau and her partner Kyle Wilson told the Planning and Zoning Commission during its meeting Nov. 28 that the pet-sitting business they propose to run out of their first home, Happy Stays LLC at 763 Danbury Road, will be a home-style arrangement in which as many as 20 mostly small dogs would be treated as their own.

The couple would live on the second floor of the 1923 bungalow-style two-story home, and customer traffic would be limited. The bungalow measures 2,960 square feet.

“This will be our first home,” Marceau told the commissioners, gathered for the meeting in the town hall annex.

The public hearing for the home-based pet care business drew three members of the public, mostly in support.

“You should see her in action, she’s like the dog whisperer, those dogs — so quiet and well-behaved. I’ve never seen anything like it,” said her landlord, Holly McCreary, manager of the property.

Neighbor James Waters said he supported the concept of the business, but had concerns about the noise the dogs could possibly make.
Adaptive uses
If the zoning commissioners approve the commercial use of the residential property, it won’t be the first time that has been done on Danbury Road. A good portion of Danbury Road is zoned for one- or two-acre residential, but in the zoning regulations there is a policy in which older homes or architecturally significant homes can be converted to alternative use if the character of the structure is maintained, according to Town Planner Bob Nerney.

Nerney spoke in an interview before the meeting.

“This regulation has been in place 40 years,” he said. “You see many examples of older homes that have been converted to office service-type businesses.”

Nerney said he could not predict how the commissioners would vote on the proposal, but confirmed that many businesses up and down Route 7 have taken advantage of the regulation.

“There are many examples of older homes converted and still technically zoned residential but because of their historic nature, alternative uses have been allowed,” Nerney said. “The rationale is many of the structures may have been suitable for housing years ago but are less suitable today, being on a main highway.”

The couple currently lives in Westport and takes care of some dogs already, so they have existing customers.

There would be no more than one employee working at a time. Most transportation would be done in-house, during off-peak times. Group pickups and drop-offs would be encouraged so there would be less vehicular emissions and traffic.

“It is to everyone’s benefit to do off-peak trips as to not interfere with traffic, and all steps will be made to do so,” Marceau said in a letter to the commission.

The outdoor dog activities would take place in the back half of the two-acre property, to preserve the appearance of the rolling front yard. There would be fencing.

“It will be held to the utmost visual standards without compromising function and ecological factors such as drainage or impacts to the current ecosystems that exist on the property,” she said.

The Planning and Zoning Commission will decide on the application at a future meeting.

A related type of business, a kennel, was recently denied for a commercial building on Route 7. Neighbors had voiced concerns over barking dogs and urine runoff.