Albany Township supervisors decided to take legal action against a property owner for housing too many dogs at her small property.Acting on the complaints of a neighboring property owner, supervisors voted unanimously in favor of pursuing action against Stacy Luyben, Stony Run. Albany Township officials believe Luyben is creating a public nuisance by her housing up to 20 dogs. The dogs allegedly constantly bark, disrupting neighbors; and the smell of dog waste piles on an already unpleasant atmosphere.
Chairman Lawrence A. Shrawder said, "This is a community wide problem," at the June 2 regular business meeting.
Zoning officer Dennis Reiss told Albany supervisors they could cite Luyben for violating several code violations, and they, in turn, told Reiss to pursue action against her. Supervisors made it clear legal action will be taken against Luyben to enforce compliance with zoning ordinances. Authorization was given to Solicitor Jay L. Davis to press charges, most likely in District court.
On a warm, spring day, Luyben's neighbors, Jim Adkins and his wife, Colleen Fitzgerald, were both shocked when they learned their new neighbor began presenting a fluxuating number of Yorkshire terrier dogs. After moving in March 2005, as the weather became nicer the puppies next door became a growing problem. According to Adkins, when the temperature is over 55 degrees, the dogs are out in masses. When all the dogs are out, "the noise will drive you crazy."
From his son's room, through his window, 50 feet of soiled matting can be seen hanging from the clothesline, pinned up end to end. Certain days prove especially brutal, "Breezy days are like being punched in the chest with stench, and this is where my kid plays," Adkins said.
There have been times the barking was so loud, Fitzgerald recalls trying to concentrate on writing essays while in grad school and had to quit writing due to the excessive dog barking. At times the barking is so intense that Fitzgerald, Adkins, and their son have to yell in order to hear each other.
Luyben, however, is shocked by the accusations. She was not present at the Albany supervisors' meeting to defend herself, but did answer questions for The Item on a visit to her property. She claims no more than up to twenty dogs at a time live with her. She was not aware that there was a problem nor did she have any idea supervisors were planning any action.
She then stated, "It's not a kennel." However, she did admit to breeding Yorkshire terriers "as a hobby" and rescues other dogs on occasion. She claims to have less than 20 dogs at a time. "I tried to be thoughtful," Luyben said, explaining the puppy plethora.
She keeps them clean and grooms them often because they are "show dogs". Luyben has been a resident of Stony Run for at least six years and has never heard a complaint until her new neighbors moved there. She also claims to have tried to get in contact with her neighbors, but they do not respond when she knocks on their door. Luyben acknowledged the problem with the neigh-bor's child, as well, who "throws toys at the dogs.
"And they wonder why the dogs bark," Luyben said.
Deciding to do something about the situation, Adkins and Fitzgerald contacted their landlord, Darree Sicher, to make the problem known.
The situation came as a surprise to her, too. When she and her husband purchased this property, no one informed her of Luyben housing up to 20 dogs. The property was purchased at a real estate auction as an investment. According to Sicher, during the viewing and renovation of the property the dogs were not visible. She also expressed the trouble the smell next door brings.
"The smell is always a problem. When it's nice out, you can't sit outside because of the dogs," Sicher said.
Until June's business meeting, at least three certified letters have been mailed to Luyben from numerous tenants at Sicher's property, all of which have gone unanswered. The letters basically stated their experience living next door, mentioning the problems of the excessive barking, foul odors, and health concerns due to living in such close proximity to the neighbor. In addition to mentioning the problems in the letter, Adkins, also wanted to