SOUTH BRUNSWICK – The most recent meeting regarding a proposed dog daycare and overnight boarding facility in South Brunswick mainly focused on how noise would affect the neighborhood.
Matthew Coder came before the South Brunswick Zoning Board of Adjustment on Aug. 5 in continuation of an application for the canine boarding facility, which would be on his existing residential property at 51 Orchardside Drive.
Coder said previously he has owned the 7.5-acre property with his wife since August 2018.
The property is in an agricultural zone even though residences are across the street. The property is bordered by farmland for agricultural and nursery operations. There is one single-family home to the west and one home to the east along the road.
To put his professional experience into context, Coder said he currently owns and operates Matt Walks Dogs LLC. He is also a dog trainer, and worked for the Plainsboro Recreation Department doing dog obedience and puppy classes, plus some dog sporting (agility) classes.
For Homestead Hounds LLC, which would – on their property, Coder said the plan is to operate a dog daycare during daytime hours for the purpose of socialization. He said there would be indoor and outdoor play runs, separated by dogs under and over 30 pounds.
The inside area would have multiple doors, gates and fences, he said. The dogs would be allowed off leash in the play areas, but while supervised.
The outdoor runs would be 50 feet by 100 feet for the large dogs and 50 feet by 79 feet for the small dogs.
There would be a maximum of 50 dogs on site at one time.
For the overnight boarding component of the plan, a maximum of 26 dogs would be allowed.
He said this will not be a retail facility or a pet shop, and it will not be a training facility.
Coder previously said any dog who excessively barks or is a “behavior menace” would be denied admittance to the program.
During the Aug. 5 meeting, Benjamin Mueller explained the noise reports from Feb. 19, 2020, and Dec. 7, 2020.
He said acceptable daytime noise should measure 65 dba (A-weighted decibels), while residential receptors should measure 50 dba on average from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m.
He described dog barks as “impulse sounds,” meaning they last less than one second in duration. However, he said although they are shorter in duration, they are higher in magnitude.
According to noise guidelines, that allows for an acceptable level of 80 dba per bark. He said that type of noise is measured as a slow response, because that is how the human ear most similarly responds. In effect, a recording microphone would measure the pressure more quickly.
At night, Mueller said four or more impulse sounds in an hour would not be tolerated.
He said this complies with South Brunswick’s noise ordinance, which states that no animal is allowed to create sounds that disturb the peace. That is defined as vocalization of constant impulse for five minutes, or intermittent noise for 20 minutes.
Mueller said tests with a Doberman Pinscher showed an average of 77 dba 25 feet at the fence. Barking 150 feet from the nearest property line, the barks measured 61 to 64 dba. For the dwelling that is 250 feet from the exercise area, the sound measured 52 to 60 dba.
Mueller said those levels fully comply with state and township ordinances.
He also noted that, for example, 20 dogs will not bark “harmoniously,” but there could hypothetically be times of an increase in frequency, for example, one bark per second. He said in his opinion, though, “that doesn’t happen.”
“Any frenzied barking would be immediately controlled,” he said.
The pole barn where the indoor facility would be located is 75 feet from the adjacent property.
There are only internal renovations planned for the pole barn, except for some external lighting since there is no light in the building, according to previous testimony by architect Ricardo Perez.
Using one of Coder’s dogs inside the unfinished building, Mueller said of the 12 barks registered, the loudest one was 91 dba. However, that would be lower once the improvements to the building are made, he said.
He said when standing on the property line, the barking from inside the building was measured at 55 dba under a slow metric.
The plan is to use Armstrong Optima ceiling tiles which have a 0.95 rate of absorption. This also prevents sound from traveling out through the roof, Mueller said.
Plus, a 5-inch thick covered Fiberglass will allow sound to be immediately absorbed, he said, plus it lowers other frequencies.
“It will be a very balanced and acoustically dampened environment (inside),” Mueller said.
There was also discussion about whether the gravel driveway and parking lot should be paved. From a maintenance and circulation standpoint, professional engineer Frank Antisell said he is concerned about a firetruck or garbage truck traveling on “sandy soil.” He said snow and dust could be an issue, too.
Relating the sound issue to the condition of the parking lot, Mueller said Coder’s pickup truck traveling over the gravel road only measured 57 to 63 dba at the property line; the code limit is 65 dba. He also noted the closest truck was 30 feet from the property line.
And, he said the already present noise from cars, aircraft or nature can register from 55 to 60 dba.
In regard to traffic, project engineer Douglas Polyniak said the property will not be a high trip generator.
The facility would be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. all week for drop-offs; Coder previously said he expects the busier times to be before and after work on weekdays, from 7-9 a.m. and from 5-7 p.m.
He previously said there would be a maximum of five customers on site per time, for about two minutes each, per the traffic engineer’s analysis.
Studies from 2018 reported that during the peak timeframes, there were 33 vehicles entering the property in the morning and 24 exiting the property in the morning; and 27 entering in the evening and 25 exiting in the evening.
Studies from March 2021 are slightly higher than 2018, reporting that during the peak timeframes, there were 34 vehicles entering in the morning and 31 exiting in the morning, and 30 entering in the evening and 29 exiting in the evening.
For the anticipated location, Polyniak said he expects 15 vehicles in and out during the peak hours, which is roughly one vehicle entering or exiting the project from Orchardside Drive every two minutes.
He said this will cause no negative impacts to the site nor the associated intersections.
The application will continue on Oct. 7, with more expert testimony and public comments expected.
For more information, visit southbrunswicknj.gov
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