The Royal Palm Beach Planning & Zoning Commission voted 3-2 on Tuesday, Oct. 26 to recommend approval of a fenced-in dog run at the new Access Specialty Animal Hospital at 10465 Southern Blvd.
The applicant requested a landscaping waiver to eliminate the existing parking divider strip and convert it into a dog run, and eliminate the required shrub and ground cover, explained Planning & Zoning Director Bradford O’Brien, noting that the proposed dog run was unanimously approved earlier.
“The proposed fenced-in area is 34 feet wide when only 8 feet is required,” O’Brien said. “Also, the trees will remain in the island to provide shade and greenery, and plantings and sod in the islands will be substituted with artificial turf and will be using a green-coated shingling fence. It is my professional opinion that the 30-foot outdoor dog run with two trees and green vinyl fence satisfies the intent of this code.”
He explained that the dog run would only be there as long as the veterinary clinic is there.
“If the veterinary clinic leaves, the landscape island could very easily be restored to fully comply with this code section,” O’Brien said, adding that staff is recommending denial of the landscape waiver request because the divider strip is 34 feet wide, and there is sufficient space to provide both the required shrub material and the dog run. “It is important to note that the divider strip will not be removed and can be converted back into the village code required divider strip should the building be occupied by a different user.”
Manny Gutierrez, the architect on the project, said the new veterinary hospital replaced a vacant Staples store earlier this year.
“It was a good move for the community to revitalize that shopping center, so the village council did unanimously approve a special use for this outdoor run, and so did the zoning board,” he said, pointing out that their main focus when the item was first brought up was to get the hospital running.
Gutierrez added that the purpose of the newly requested fence was to keep the dogs safe. He said that the dog run does not take up any parking spaces, and that mature trees are being retained. The hedges are being removed due the fact that the dogs’ normal activities are destroying the plants. “That’s why we’re using the artificial grass,” he said.
Commissioner Ray Nazareth asked O’Brien if there was a way to mitigate the situation with staff’s recommendation of denial. O’Brien said the applicant has contended that his request is the least that can be made for feasible use for that type of hospital.
Gutierrez said the proposed dog run is actually smaller than dog runs at other Access locations.
“We did not think that the request is excessive,” he said. “It’s a large animal hospital, about 23,000 square feet. The animals that are here are not animals that are boarding. They are animals that are recuperating or waiting to be treated or being treated. They definitely need this for the services that are being provided to our community.”
Nazareth asked if neighbors had complained about the hospital, and the applicant said there had been one opposition to the original request.
Commission Chair Adam Miller pointed out that the original request for the animal hospital had included the dog run, and the only addition was a fence.
Commissioner Lauren McLellan made a motion to approve the request, which carried 3-2 with Nazareth and Commission Vice Chair Philip Marquis opposed.
The applicant also proposed that the approved sidewalk in that area be closed as part of the fencing process. The dog run is in an area that is used primarily by employees. That request also passed 3-2.