Starkey officials are finalizing the language in the law based on recommendations from the town attorney. A public hearing on the moratorium law will be held in February.

Starkey Town officials want to hear comments from town residents about adopting a law that pauses issuing permits to operate commercial dog kennels in the town for up to a year.

In December, the town board decided to consider a moratorium while town officials consider re-writing local regulations about establishing, constructing or modifying a kennel in the town.

Commercial dog kennels have been a topic of discussion in Starkey and neighboring Barrington for a few months, since Starkey denied a permit for a kennel last fall, and opposition to a Barrington kennel and retail sales business resulted in permit applications being withdrawn.

In October, the Starkey Planning Board denied a special use permit to build a 32 st. by 96 ft. dog kennel to house 75 adult dogs by a vote of 5 to 1. Planning Board members expressed concerns about how dog manure would be handled.

Neighbors of another commercial kennel that operates near where that applicant intends to operate his facility attended the October public hearing and did not oppose the plans, according to Starkey Supervisor George Lawson. He later said, “It comes down to the fact that we will take the time to get to the bottom of some of these issues,” when Starkey veterinarian Susan Collins asked what lead to the board’s decision to adopt a moratorium.

At the Jan. 4 Starkey Town Board meeting, Lawson conducted a public hearing on the proposed moratorium law, but explained the law is being finalized. Another public hearing will be held once the law is complete. The board unanimously agreed to rely exclusively on legal advice from the town attorney and the New York State Association of Towns in respect to the proposed law.

An attorney from Manhattan, Susan Chana Lask, has been submitting comments and recommendations to people who oppose commercial dog kennels. One of the people she communicates with is Rebecca Flynn of Barrington, who attended the Jan. 4 Starkey meeting to voice her support for a moratorium.

But five local veterinarians also attended, and said they do not support a moratorium. One of them, Leah Webb, said she works with kennel owners and she supports making sure the laws are appropriate.

Glenn Fahnestock, of Eastview Veterinary Clinic in Benton, said he has worked with kennels for 35 years, and feels the operations he has seen are well run and under the direct governance of US Department of Agriculture and New York State Agriculture and Markets. He also said he has worked in animal care research for the National Institute of Health, and has watched the developments in humane care over the years. “I question why there is any need for a moratorium,” he said.

Marlene Button, also a Starkey veterinarian, said she doesn’t feel there is a problem that demands a moratorium.

During the regular agenda portion of the meeting, board members reviewed the proposed law and discussed recommendations made by the town’s attorney. The proposed moratorium would prohibit the establishment, placement, relocation, construction, reconstruction, enlargement, modification or erection of any kennel in the town for up to one year while town officials complete research and come up with new recommendations.