An East Hampton woman can continue to operate her home-based dog day care business after the East Hampton Zoning Board of Appeals overturned a previous determination by the town.
Lori Marsden runs Lori’s Pet Care from her Saddle Lane home, offering dog walking, dog sitting and occasionally overnight stays. A July 2018 decision from the East Hampton Building Inspector’s office found that Marsden’s business did not qualify as a home occupation, which is allowed under town code, largely because dogs could be observed entering and exiting her house. External evidence of a home business is prohibited under town law.
Marsden’s East Hampton attorney Carl Irace had argued that upholding the determination would “defy common sense” and not only put his client out of business, but could jeopardize other home-based businesses in the town where there is limited commercial space and high rents.
Marsden brought the matter before the zoning board, claiming her service should be allowed under town code.
“A dog walking doggy day care business does meet, should meet, and my common sense tells me it better meet, the definition of a home-based business,” zoning board member Tim Brenneman said during a Feb. 26 meeting where the board informally decided to overturn the principal building inspector’s decision. The board formally voted 4-0 in favor of Marsden on March 19.
The board’s determination notes that a neighbor submitted audio of barking dogs as evidence that Lori’s Pet Care negatively impacted the neighborhood. The board disagreed, stating the noise could have come from Marsden’s own dogs or from another property.
“There is no evidence that the activities by dogs from the pet-sitting business can be distinguished from the use of the residence by the appellant’s own dogs,” the decision states.
Marsden said she was happy with the decision but would like to see further clarification on home-based occupations in the town code.
“Just because a neighbor calls code enforcement doesn’t mean what you’re doing is illegal,” she said. “Hopefully, other people will do what I’ve done and fight back a little.”