An East Nashville doggie daycare –– at a legal crossroads after opening prior to Metro codes clearance –– has garnered 136 signatures of support as its owner awaits a court order that Metro attorneys hope includes jail time.
“East Nashvillians don’t want small business owners to go to jail,” reads a petition for The Dog Spot, found at change.org. “They want them to thrive.”
Chad Baker, who with help from twin brother Andy Baker owns and operates The Dog Spot, finds himself in Davidson County General Sessions Court after he opened his store on Gallatin Road in August without obtaining a use and occupancy permit.
The Baker brothers are in a long-standing feud with Metro over the interpretation of the Gallatin Road Specific Plan, a set of zoning guidelines –– required setbacks, materials and uses –– passed in 2007 to improve the aesthetics along the East Nashville corridor. Developers have criticized the SP’s guidelines for being complicated, difficult to navigate and carrying the unintended consequence of thwarting development.
Lacking all the SP requirements, Baker opened The Dog Spot prior to final zoning inspections. The Metro Department of Codes and Building Safety followed by issuing a stop work notice, which was ignored, prompting Metro attorneys to prosecute Baker in environmental court.
A General Sessions referee has issued an injunction, effectively asking Baker to obtain a use and occupancy permit or cease operations. The Dog Spot owners have done neither.
The most recent court hearing took place Nov. 16. Another hearing is set for Wednesday. The referee is expected to issue an order before then.
Attorney Jon Michael, handling the case for Metro, is seeking a 72-hour jail sentence for Baker, which he said is the standard for “knowingly violating the court’s order.”
“So, that’s what we asked for the finding of contempt, which with it would be a 72-hour turn in jail,” Michael said.
But attorney Hans Schmidt, who provides legal counsel for Baker, claims the only zoning issue that remains for The Dog Spot is parking, which he said his client is trying to work out. Therefore, jail time isn’t warranted, Schmidt said.
Schmidt said the original site plan approved by the Metro Planning Commission required parking in the rear of the building. The Dog Spot continued to have parking spaces in the front of the building, but have since submitted a new proposal. He said the new proposal would be discussed at a Dec. 8 planning commission public hearing.
“With the parking issue hopefully being resolved at the Dec. 8 planning commission hearing, jail time is not warranted,” Schmidt said. “Every other permit has been granted. ... Everything has been done. Just one issue with parking is all that remains.”