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Doggie daycare in the works
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MONROE - The City of Monroe Plan Commission set the wheels in motion Wednesday, Sept. 11, to include canine boarding and services in its list of conditional uses allowed in some parts of the city.

Charlie's Bark Park of Belleville is ready to expand to a second location, choosing Monroe for that new facility, which will offer all the same services the original Charlie's offers.

A vacant business building at 4th Avenue West and West 6th Street offered Charlie's Bark Park the right location and the perfect facility with room to expand, said owner Chad Fahey Wednesday.

"We were looking for a new location for five months," Fahey added.

The new location is zoned M-1, for light industrial, which, Fahey said, is "great, because it's away from residential" areas.

On the recommendations of Dave Powers, city building inspector, and Rex Ewald, city attorney, the Plan Commission voted to send a rewrite of the conditional uses list to the Judiciary and Ordinance Review Committee, to include animal boarding facilities and perhaps a couple other uses.

Charlie's Bark Park offers doggie daycare, overnight boarding, grooming services, behavioral coaching and training, as well as food, supplies and adoptions.

"It's a needed service," Ewald said. "Unfortunately, it's not listed under the current code."

Ewald said he feels "no hesitation" to grant the business conditional use status, but "it just doesn't fit" in the current list.

Conditional use status gives the city leeway to add restrictions on a business before granting its use of a particular piece of property.

Ewald said, to update the current list, the city would have to "go through the hoops to be able to grant a conditional use" to Charlie's Bark Park.

That means Ewald will have to update the list for presentation at the next Judiciary and Ordinance Review Committee, which, if passed, will then go before the full council with a public hearing and vote. Mayor Bill Ross, chairman of the Plan Commission, estimates the process could take until early November before the commission can move to approve the use.

Charlie's Bark Park business plan requires enclosing the yard with an 8-foot-high solid wood fence, which needs posts installed before frost set in, Fahey said.

Fahey wants to remodel and open the new location by the end of the year. He also plans to add an additional 1,400 square feet to the building next summer. The new location will need four to seven full- and part-time employees.

The Monroe location is expected to have about 40 kennels and cageless suites, sized accordingly for toy to large, working breeds. The kennels, zoo-like enclosures with privacy panels, are "fancy-upscale, not chain link," Fahey said.

Fahey said he is a dog behaviorist, trainer and coach, with 20 years of experience working part-time with dogs. He was in corporate work before starting Charlie's in Belleville, where his wife Heidi has now joined him.

"I've always been a crazy dog fan," he added.