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Public expresses concerns over breeding operation

Thursday, January 23, 2014 - Updated: 12:34 AM


For the C-S-E

FLAT CREEK -- There was standing room only at the January Root Town Council meeting due to the controversy surrounding the Flat Creek Border Collies breeders operation owned by Herbert Weich located on Rappa Road.

During public comment, several individuals from outside the area expressed concerns about the operation to the town council.

Kimberly Strong, of Utica, said she was concerned about the long-term impact of the operation even though the situation was now “in the hands” of the court system. Strong was upset that the breeding operation, as she described it, “was going on for 15-plus years with the approval of the zoning board and town council”. 

Strong added, “How could this be going on here for so long, so close?” Strong said she was trying to be cooperative and not adversarial and would plan to attend future zoning board and town council meetings.  

Laura Gerhardt, also from Utica, and Adrian Elbin, of Litchfield, NY, both questioned how Weich had handled the removal of his dogs‘ liquid and solid waste  (questioning the possibility of contamination) with 60-plus dogs housed on one-and-a-half acres of land. 

Elizabeth Lazarou, of Fultonville, proposed that the town council raise licensing fees to $25 per dog, and in a case where dog ownership exceeds 10 dogs, said the owner should also incur an additional surcharge of $50. 

Lazarou believes the increase in fees would deter “hoarding and irresponsible breeding” as defined in a hand out she distributed to town council members. Lazarou asked the town council to “adopt measures to protect the integrity of our residents and pets.”

Town resident and Chairman of the Board of Appeals Paul Toleno responded to some of the statements made during public comment. Toleno stated, “It hurts me to have outsiders come in and tell us what to do. This town is very cognizant of our responsibilities.” Toleno continued, “The town worked to create in its new codes a kennel law that met the town’s needs and met state requirements.”

Attorney Bob Subik also responded, following Toleno’s comments, with a summary of the legal actions taken by the town, and through their court, that had taken place regarding Weich’s breeding operation. 

Subik stated that Weich’s breeding operation existed prior to the adoption of the town’s kennel law. Under the kennel law, Weich has until April 2014 to come into compliance; Weich will have to go through a review process. 

Subik said that the town would work with Weich to bring his property into compliance. 

Subik emphasized that the town has done all it could under the law; “We do take this seriously and will be addressing this in the future.” Subik advised that Weich did consent to the removal of some of his dogs and is cooperating with the court. 

In a subsequent interview with Paul Toleno on January 20, Toleno expanded on his comments and the statements made by attorney Subik at the town council’s January 8 meeting. 

Toleno stated that the current kennel law was adopted by the town council in 2011 before the revision of the town’s codes was completed in 2012. Toleno said that Weich’s operation is for the purpose of breeding working dogs.  

Toleno said the town council took a very pro-active stance regarding the development and adoption of the current kennel law. Toleno stated that Weich’s breeding operation was not in compliance at the time the kennel law was established. 

As Weich had an existing business, he was given a 2-year moratorium ending in April 2014 to bring his operation into compliance with the new town codes. This moratorium also applied to any other kennel operations located in the town of Root and was incorporated into the town codes.

Toleno added that if Weich is in compliance at the April 2014 deadline, the town’s code enforcement officer and animal control officer will continuously monitor Weich’s operation to make sure he remains in compliance. 

If Weich is not in compliance as of April 2014, he will be issued a summons. Toleno also noted that the Agriculture and Market Laws would always supersede the town’s local codes.         


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