Feb 11, 2009 Russ Tarby Uncategorized
The village of Liverpool has withdrawn its case against KittyCorner of CNY, Inc, a feline-rescue program operated by sisters Linda and Deborah Young at 306 Second St.
The long-awaited court date was originally scheduled to be heard in Village Court last September, was rescheduled for December then January and finally Feb. 10. Now that Village Attorney John Langey has sent a letter to all parties stating the village’s intention to drop the case, there will be no court appearance Tuesday as had been planned. The lawyer’s letter was mailed Friday Feb. 6.
“We decided to withdraw the case because there are several things that need more attention,” Liverpool Mayor Marlene Ward said Saturday. “We’ll have to decide where to put our energy and our money in the future, but this doesn’t mean that this is something we’re going to ignore. The village will continue to address the issue.”
The case began in the summer of 2006 when Village Codes-Enforcement Officer Kurt Field cited KittyCorner and Greyhounds of Central New York, at 305 Third St., for operating kennels in residential areas without a special permit. Each operation had applied to the Liverpool Planning Board for permits, but then withdrew their applications in early December 2006 in favor of taking the case to court.
On Dec. 18, 2006, the Liverpool Village Board of Trustees instituted a moratorium on applications for special permits to operate animal-rescue operations or pet kennels within the village. Two months later, on Feb. 20, 2007, the village board voted 3-1 to expand the village code’s definition of “kennel” to include any property housing more than six cats.
The code previously defined kennels as properties which housed animals for commercial boarding or sale, and specifically targeted properties which harbored more than four dogs six months old or older.
The Young sisters have said that KittyCorner normally houses an average of four dozen felines. Jonna Skehan, operator of Greyhounds of Central New York, often houses up to a dozen former racing dogs.
On their kittycorner.org Web site, the Young sisters maintain that their rescue operation needs to be conducted in a home-like, residential environment. “The natural habitat for a housecat is a house,” they write. “To put it more plainly, we have to live with them so that we can give them the kind of nurturing they need and get to know them as individuals, and they need to live in a home to learn good house manners.”
Their attorney, zoning specialist Dirk Oudemool, had planned a two-pronged defense of KittyCorner.
“I have two contentions,” Oudemool said last month. “One, the law (the village) adopted was improperly adopted, so it’s invalid, and two, even if it was valid, it does not apply to my clients. They have non-conforming use rights under the zoning laws. In other words, my clients are grandfathered in. You can’t back-date the law.”
Ward insists that the village is within its rights to limit the number of animals allowed to live in a residential neighborhood. “It’s a big concern,” Ward said. “I don’t really believe people in Liverpool are interested in living next to a house with 60 cats. Even though KittyCorner is not-for-profit and does a wonderful job rescuing cats, it’s still a business in a residential area.”
But the Youngs point out that of the 16 properties on the block on which they live just six are homes; the other 10 house businesses or village property.
“We are between a funeral home and a museum,” the Youngs wrote. “What we do is perfectly appropriate for the property and the neighborhood.”