Almost 750 Southie and Boston Supporters for Fenway Bark Stay.Play.Heal. in South Boston

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Southie comes out in support of proposed new business to provide needed dog care services and jobs in South Boston.

Fenway Bark's proposed entrance on East First Street, South Boston

After making operational modifications based on concerns expressed by the neighborhood in a December 9, 2009 City of Boston Office of Neighborhood Services (“ONS”) neighborhood meeting, and sharing them with the abutters and South Boston community, Fenway Bark will be presenting to the Zoning Board of Appeals documentation of almost 750 supporters within the community, 90% of whom are from South Boston and most of whom are dog owners. The documentation will also show that 93% of abutters who could be reached after an extensive and thorough outreach effort are supportive, or are not opposed, to the business opening at the 553 E. First Street location.

“We are grateful to neighbors and abutters who have taken the time to discuss their concerns and listened to our solutions and as a direct result, embraced bringing our much needed business to the community,” said Fulton. “They understand both the need for the services and that we are trying to be a good neighbor.”

South Boston has approximately 1,100 licensed dogs and an estimated double, or possibly triple that number, actually living in the area.

On October 14, 2009, after reviewing an application for a Change of Use and Occupancy, the City of Boston’s Inspectional Services Department (“ISD”) issued a permit for Fenway Bark Stay.Play.Heal to operate at its proposed location. However, after receiving a complaint from a neighbor about the proposed business,ISD issued a stop-work order 52 days after the permit was issued citing an “internal mistake” in the permitting process. The property is located in what the Boston Zoning Code defines as an “IPOD” or Interim Planning Overlay District, which is the acronym for a zoning designation used to control development in areas that are being rezoned. Under the Boston Zoning Code, IPODs are supposed to be in place for no more than two (2) years in order to provide a neighborhood with an appropriate period to plan and complete the rezoning process. The South Boston IPOD was established more than eleven years ago with no final rezoning plan ever adopted. Some neighbors have expressed concerns about noise, odor and increased traffic in an area zoned for commercial properties currently undergoing zoning review.

Fenway Bark’s operational changes address all these concerns. A professional acoustical engineering firm, Cavanaugh Tocci Inc., conducted acoustical tests and confirmed that the 18 to 24 inch concrete walls, ceilings, and floors prevent all human perceptible sound at 100 decibels from being detectable outside of the building walls with the exception of two areas that require a small amount of duct work and a replacement panel which were already part of the build out plans.

“The acoustic study was conducted by a highly reputable, independent acoustic engineering firm and regardless of the Massachusetts and Boston noise standards that they must use when engaged in an acoustical study, there are neighbors who simply refuse to believe it,” said Jim Morrison, General Manager for Fenway Bark, ”There is nothing we can do to convince people who are unwilling to look at the facts of an independent and reputable third party consultant.”

At a recent follow up ONS neighborhood meeting, abutters who remain against the project stated that they feel that the business is inappropriate for a “residential neighborhood”. The underlying existing zoning is M-1, or light manufacturing, and is undergoing review in the IPOD process. It is doubtful that the zoning will be declared residential, where kennels are banned, because of the substantial and dominating commercial, manufacturing, and industrial property use in the area, particularly along First Street where Fenway Bark will have its entrance across from Accurate Fasteners manufacturing plant.

Fenway Bark, should it be granted the IPOD permit, will provide up to 40 jobs to an area with 20% unemployment among young adults. It will be the first and only facility in Boston to offer canine boarding and physical therapy.

“Before the Stop Work order was issued, I was working for Fenway Bark and it was so exciting to be part of a new company and learning the ropes just steps from my door. I graduated from college last year and the Boston market is really tough for recent graduates so to find a job that I can learn so much and is so clearly needed by my friends who have dogs in the area is exciting,” said Francesca Zagami from South Boston.

Boston is consistently rated near the bottom of US cities when measurements of “Dog Friendliness” are compared. A recent Men’s Health article cited Boston as 46 out of 50 cities as being unfriendly to dog ownership and one of the cited reasons is the lack of dog facilities.

“Allowing Fenway Bark to receive its permit and open will raise the profile of Boston as a dog friendly town, as creating job growth, and fostering new, creative business opportunities,” said Fulton.

The Zoning Board of Appeals hearing will be at 12 pm on March 9, 2010 at City Hall.


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Jane Fulton
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