Neighbor, shelter at odds over barking

Published 10:01am Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Owners of a neighboring campground are renewing their call for the animal shelter to muzzle the sound of barking dogs, but county officials first want proof there is a problem.
Philip Wright, one of the owners of the Serenity’s Edge campground, returned to the Elizabethton/Carter County Animal Shelter Advisory Board Tuesday seeking answers to his complaint that dogs at the animal shelter were making too much noise and disturbing the campers.
Board chair Mike Barnett told the board about options that he had explored as a possibility for a sound barrier between the shelter and the campground, such as a dirt berm, a sound-canceling fence or a tree line.
Wright asked if that meant the board acknowledged there was a noise problem at the shelter; County Mayor Leon Humphrey rejected that suggestion.
“We are still not saying there is an issue,” Humphrey said. “We have visited the site and have not heard the issue you say is there. We have to have proof that there is a problem before we can start to invest in this project. You repeatedly say there is, but we have no proof.”
Humphrey added that it was up to Wright to furnish proof there is a noise problem at the campground caused by the dogs barking at the animal shelter.
Wright said he planned to have a noise study conducted, but wanted to make sure it met the criteria the board was looking for before submitting it. He said he had also advised campers to make calls to the mayor’s office about the noise. Humphrey said he had received no calls from anyone about noise from the shelter.
Wes Wright, a co-owner of the campground, said he had to beg the campers to stay and hoped the noise problem was corrected before the expansion on the campground was finished. The Wrights are working to add more campground spots on the west side of the campground, closest to the shelter.
Friends of the Animal Shelter board member Meg Brown asked why the campground was expanding if the shelter noise was damaging business to the extent they said it was.
Philip Wright responded that the campground was a “preexisting concern” and if “something would have to go, it is the shelter.”
Wes Wright said the infrastructure for the additional spots had mostly been installed before the shelter moved and the campground was finishing a project that had been started.
Barnett turned the discussion back to the noise control items.
He said he had spoken with Keith Hart at the agriculture extension office about adding trees or other plants between the two properties.
After talking with Hart, it was determined trees would take many years to mature, and would bring about the added concern of bird flock nesting and the related sanitation issues.
Another option would be to collect mulch and build a mulch berm between the properties. Barnett said they first thought they could collect mulch from the city that was made from the brush pickups.
He learned the mulch does not belong to the city, but is given to the outside business that grinds the brush.
Barnett said they still had the option of using mulch made from brush collected by the electric department, but that it could possibly result in issues with the Environmental Protection Agency if the mulch runoff made its way to the Watauga River.
Barnett also spoke with Summers-Taylor Inc. about the cost of adding a 12-foot by 100-foot dirt berm between the shelter and the campground. The early estimated cost of that project was around $15,000.
Another estimate was given for a 12-foot by 100-foot block wall, which was estimated at $8,235.
Barnett said he tried to contact other companies, including one that made a sound-blocking fence, but received no answer.

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