Homeowners express concerns about dog facility proposed for North Whidbey

Some residents on North Whidbey were surprised and dismayed to find out Summit Assistance Dogs is considering building a new training facility in their rural neighborhood.

Residents near Henni Road received a letter notifying them of an April 16 community meeting about the proposal, but some said they received those letters after the meeting was held.

“We received this letter after the public meeting for comment,” area resident Charlene Milliron said Monday.

“At no time were we made aware that they were accepting comment prior to this meeting.”

“Our properties, which are in a rural pastural land area, will lose their value and their desirability. It is not the way to do business.”

“We do not want this across our road.”

Another resident, Jackie Cannizzaro, said Monday that she also learned about the proposed facility for the first time in the letter she received.

“We all live on land that is rural,” Cannizzaro said. “This is a bit of a conflict to try to make the land an income-producing property in this neighborhood.”

Sue Meinzinger, Summit Assistance Dog’s executive director, said that half of the residents notified did show up for the community meeting and she isn’t sure why the others did not receive their letters. Meinzinger said the letters were sent out 10 days before the meeting.

The project is still the early phase, Meinzinger said.

Summit just launched a 90-day feasibility study for the property and has yet to apply for any kind of permit with the county.

Meinzinger said they probably won’t be able to get a pre-application meeting with county staff for at least a month.

Nothing is set in stone, and that the property could be ruled out during the feasibility study, Meinzinger said.

Meinzinger added that she would be glad to hold additional community meetings as plans move forward.

A public hearing will be required as part of the conditional use permitting process.

Meinzinger said the Anacortes-based organization has been looking for a suitable training facility since starting six years ago.

The organization decided to expand its search to Whidbey Island because it offers more large plots in rural areas than are available in the Anacortes area.

The 17-acre property at 359 E. Henni Road would provide enough space to allow Summit to screen and allow setbacks that would decrease the impact of the facility on residents, Meinzinger said.

Despite the uncertainty of the project, it is apparent that Summit may be facing opposition from residents moving forward.

“I concur we need to have a loud voice and let Island County and Summit Dogs of Anacortes know we are not OK with this commercial facility in our pastoral home sites,” Cannizzaro said in an email sent to other Henni Road area residents.

“Having a dog kennel facility not only impacts the value of our homes but also value of undeveloped and protected lands such as each of us are stewards for.

“We need to make a plan and mobilize a loud resistance.”


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