The owner of a closed Japanese restaurant on Route 9 has brought legal action against the city zoning board for clearing the way for a dog kennel to be built next door.
The suit was filed Wednesday in Saratoga County state Supreme Court by attorney Jon Crain on behalf of Wen Mei “Iris” Lu, whose Hibachi Japanese Restaurant at 3310 S. Broadway closed around Labor Day of last year.
The suit seeks a court order annulling an area variance the city’s Zoning Board of Appeals approved for Matt Sames, who wants to build a Pet Lodge at an adjacent site. It also seeks reimbursement of all legal fees incurred as a result.
The proposed kennel would hurt Lu’s ability to lease the restaurant and develop nearby residential properties, part of 21 acres of land she owns there, the suit alleges.
“Ms. Lu’s use and enjoyment of the residential properties will be directly impacted by the operation of a noisy and odorous pet lodging facility directly adjacent to the residential properties,” the suit states.
It lists as defendants the city of Saratoga Springs; Steve Shaw, the city’s building inspector; and Matt Sames of Pet Lodges Inc. in Rexford.
Reached Thursday, Shaw referred comment to Mayor Joanne Yepsen.
“We were just served yesterday and our city attorney is reviewing,” the mayor said.
The 6,000-square-foot facility is planned for 1.6 acres of land, the back portion of which is zoned rural residential and allows for animal kennels, the suit states. The use is not permitted by the city code in the tourist related business zone that encompasses the front of the property, however.
“In other words, the [City Council] specifically determined not to allow animal kennels in the TRB Zone, which features many commercial uses that are fundamentally inconsistent with an animal kennel, such as ‘service establishments,’ ‘eating and drinking establishments,’ ‘corridor bed & breakfast’ and ‘bathhouse/health spa,’” the suit states.
The zoning board granted the area variance on Jan. 24. But because a major portion of the driveway and parking lot would fall more than 100 feet from the zoning boundary line in the tourism related business zone, the project requires a use variance “as a condition precedent to the granting of an area variance,” the suit states.
Lu’s attorney, Crain, used that as his reasoning when he asked the ZBA to deny the area variance in letters dated Sept. 26 and Dec. 8. He also said the applicant failed to demonstrate the right to an area variance, regardless. Crain, of the Albany-based Whiteman Osterman & Hanna firm, could not be reached Thursday for comment.
“It is beyond dispute that dogs, especially when crammed with other dogs in constrained spaces, create a significant amount of noise and odor. Such noise and odor … would persist at all hours of the day and night,” the Sept. 26 letter alleges. “Dogs are especially likely to act loudly and/or aggressively when they are crated in unfamiliar environments.”
The letter added, “No one wants to live or eat next to a 24/7 pet lodging facility.”