Caught in the middle of a controversy between potential animal breeders and residents of the area around La Jara, the Conejos Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) June 15 approved two new dog breeding operations, then passed a six-month moratorium on all special use permits for kennels.
No new applications will be accepted for kennels or expansion of existing kennels and can be extended another six months if additional time is needed to investigate and adopt new regulations.
Since applications by Reuben Mast and Lonnie Yoder were already in process, those requests were considered, with some discussion, and approved with conditions.
A May 17 public hearing on those applications had been continued 30 days for further investigation and information and the June 15 date was closest to the decision deadline.
The BOCC approval brought the number of breeding facilities in Conejos County to three, with a special use permit application by Lavern Coblentz having been reviewed and approved Dec. 15, 2017.
Yoder has a breeding operation in Rio Grande County, but was moving his family — and their dogs to Conejos County if the application was approved.
Materials supporting the moratorium noted that three dog breeding kennel operations had been processed by the Land Use Office in the past year, placing the operations within a 10-mile radius of La Jara. On June 5, the Planning Commission recommended that the BOCC impose interim zoning moratoria on applications for special use permits for dog kennels to establish proper standards for them.
The County Land Use Code did provide for special use permits for dog kennels but did not provide specific regulation of the construction or operation of kennels or other dog breeding or boarding facilities within the county.
“Whereas, the BOCC is now aware that thousands of puppy mills exist all over the United States and that regulations specific to dog breeding kennels are necessary to prevent the proliferation of puppy mills, the Board finds it appropriate for the Board and the Planning Commission to review the standards under which large scale and/or commercial kennels or breeding facilities be permitted within the county,” the moratorium proclamation reads.