Although plans to establish a kennel at the Graydon Manor property have drawn opposition from residents of Leesburg’s Foxridge neighborhood, several county supervisors seemed to lean toward approving it as the “lesser of two evils” during an April 11 public hearing.
The property’s owners have proposed an animal hospital and kennel with up to 150 dogs and 60 cats. The kennel would have a 30,000-square-foot indoor space and a 32,000-square-foot outdoor exercise area. The applicant has committed to noise mitigation on the building, maintaining the trees along the roadside, and to locating the outdoor kennel back from the road.
Nonetheless, the property is only a few hundred feet way—and across the Leesburg Bypass—from some of the homes in Foxridge, and many of those residents asked supervisors to deny the application at the public hearing.
“I ask that you balance the desire of one business owner seeking to expand a business proposal with the considerations of the communities that will be affected,” said Blaire Ring, whose home is one of those. “A home is often the biggest investment a person makes.”
The property’s agricultural zoning allows an animal hospital by-right, but dictates that “the boarding of animals at an animal hospital is limited to that incidental to the hospital use.” Supervisors argued that the kennel would be an improvement over what the owners could do without permission from the board.
“Exactly what is being proposed could be allowed under a different name,” said County Chairwoman Phyllis J. Randall (D-At Large). “Instead of it begin called a kennel, it could be called a hospital and nothing changes. The only thing that changes with the word kennel is we can impose some standards.”
Supervisor Geary M. Higgins (R-Catoctin) said it’s unlikely the dogs would create more noise concern than the traffic on the highway that borders the neighborhood.
“I can tell you that there could be worse and more intensive uses on this property,” Higgins said. “I apologize that I can’t stop that, but this gentleman has a right to do things, and in this particular case, I don’t think this is an unreasonable ask.”
Supervisors sent the application to their meeting May 1 for a vote.
Graydon Manor was built in the early 1900s as a summer home, then converted to a group home for epileptic children in 1957. It went on to serve as a psychiatric facility until 2016. The property is between Rust Nature Sanctuary to the north and the W&OD Trail to the south.