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Residents opposed to having a dog training facility in their rural area won out when the Fauquier County Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 on Aug. 8 to deny a special exception.

Ahmad and Gretchen Pirasteh wanted to operate what the county defines as a “minor kennel” within the Springs Valley Agricultural and Forestal District at Natania Farm, on 124 acres of land at 8270 March Wales Road in Warrenton.

Maintenance of the private road, safety and the change in character of the area were issues raised by residents during a community meeting at the property the applicants held to explain the proposal. They were raised again during the public hearing that preceded the supervisors’ vote. Seventeen people spoke on the issue, from both sides.

The applicants dropped the breeding and boarding of dogs from the revised application, but left dog training in.

The planning commission recommended approval of the special exception on a 3-2 vote with the conditions that training occur only in an existing secured indoor riding arena and that dogs be kept in crates when not in training.

Ahmad Pirasteh, who spoke during the hearing, said 20 dogs would be the maximum on the property during training, in addition to the six dogs he owns. He said the nearest neighboring house to the planned training activity is 1,000 feet away. He said he had agreed to fence in the area where the dogs would train.

Allowing a commercial dog training operation on the land though “does make a change to the neighborhood in a significant way,” said Dennis Pearson, an adjoining property owner opposed to the granting of a special exception. “It’s in an agricultural and forestal district. The intent is not to have commercial business.”

“The board would be foolhardy to think things can’t go wrong,” said Peter Petronzio, who said he lives near the property.

Others spoke in favor of the application and the quality of training that said would be provided.

“Nino is a world class dog trainer. We are privileged to have him,” Daniel Heller said of Nino Firdous, who trained dogs as a member of the police department in Antwerp, Belgium.

Supervisor Mary Leigh McDaniel, Marshall District, said “trying to find the right balance is almost impossible” when weighing the concerns of neighbors and what people want to do with their property. She was swayed by the concerns of neighbors, as was Supervisor Rick Gerhardt, Cedar Run District, who said opponents presented “reasonable reasons” for opposing the application.

Holder Trumbo, Scott District, said he had no doubt the applicants were “good people” but that a land use decision was at issue. What an applicant proposes “has to be a good fit, no matter who’s involved.”

In casting the sole vote opposing denial, Supervisor Chris Granger, Center District, said that “this board has approved larger operations on smaller lots” than was the case with Natania. 

“Had the applicant wanted to put a hunt kennel here it would have been by right, or train polo ponies. Both create a higher level of intensity” than what the applicant proposed, Granger said.  

Reach James Ivancic at jivanci@fauquier.com

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