Proposed changes to Carmel’s noise ordinance concern kennel owners 

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When Best Friends Pet Hotel set up shop more than 30 years ago on Gradle Drive, it was surrounded by open fields and little else.

It’s continued providing kennel space and dog care as Carmel developed around it, with apartments popping up next door in the early 2000s and growth continuing in the area in recent years. But now, some are wondering if a kennel and apartment complex can be good neighbors.

The city is reviewing its noise ordinance after residents in the nearby Carmel Center Apartments complained about noise coming from Best Friends. The proposed amendments state that any sound louder than 70 decibels, which is comparable to noise produced by a vacuum cleaner, would be a violation. With many dogs able to bark 90 decibels or louder, Best Friends officials are concerned about the future of their business.

“Because of the nature of this business enterprise, it is going to be very difficult to continue operations under the ordinance as proposed,” said Eric Schmadecke, an attorney representing Best Friends, at a Jan. 16 city council committee meeting.

Schmadecke said he empathizes with the frustration experienced by some of the apartment dwellers but that they were aware a kennel was next door when they signed their lease.

“We’ve been there. (The apartment) came to that location with Best Friends right there. If Best Friends was asking for an exemption to be placed in the middle of a neighborhood, you’d have every right to say no,” Schmadeke said. “I would implore you to take into consideration the length and duration of Best Friends as a good corporate citizen.”

Schmadeke asked the city to consider exempting it from the noise ordinance during certain times of the day, similar to how sounds from lawn mowers are exempt between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m. Best Friends is planning to conduct a sound study – which has been delayed by weather – and is researching methods to reduce noise.

“There is a certain period of the day these dogs are going to have to be outside,” Schmadeke said. “Limiting it to staggered 10 minutes of time just isn’t feasible for this facility.”

City councilor Kevin Rider, who is not on the committee but attended the meeting, suggested that Best Friends ask the apartment complex to share in the cost of finding a resolution, but councilor Ron Carter, who sponsored the amendments, said the apartment is already paying a price.

“The apartments are sharing in the cost of this already, as the manager of the apartments mentioned at our last (committee) meeting to the tune of multiple thousands of dollars in discounting the apartments in order to rent those apartments in light of the noise coming from the kennel,” said Carter, who said previously the ordinance is not aimed at a single business.

Councilor Sue Finkam said she couldn’t support the ordinance amendments because it is unclear what it would mean for residents with dogs that bark louder or longer than the proposed limits.

The committee will meet again at 5 p.m. Jan. 30 to revisit the issue. The Carmel City Council will have final voting authority on changes to the ordinance.

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