Online petition shows support for doggie daycare as owner awaits court order

Monday, November 28, 2011 at 2:48pm

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.”

19 Comments on this post:

By: 37206 on 11/28/11 at 5:51

http://www.change.org/petitions/please-sign-the-dog-spot-petition-we-need-your-help

By: 37206 on 11/28/11 at 5:52

Here is a link to the Online petition. Please sign it if you support The Dog Spot:
http://www.change.org/petitions/please-sign-the-dog-spot-petition-we-need-your-help

By: sidneyames on 11/29/11 at 7:08

I guess I'm not clear on WHY this business did not follow the law. After all, we all have to follow the law. I am all for small business; local business and dog business, but I'm for the law also. I would sign the petition if the owners could clarify why they did not feel they were obliged to follow the law..

By: 37206 on 11/29/11 at 9:00

The Planning department is trying to make The Dog Spot comply with aspects of the SP zoning that are for new construction but The Dog Spot is in an existing nonconforming building so the new construction rules do not apply. The Metro Planning Commission has the chance to see that and fix it on 12-08-2011. The petition is for support on Dec 8th. The city has the chance to help The Dog Spot on Dec 8th and by signing the petition you are telling the MPC to help The Dog Spot.

By: RTungsten on 11/29/11 at 9:10

So, the Baker boys signed the petition 136 times? Wouldn't put it past them.

By: 37206 on 11/29/11 at 9:15

Petition is up to 191 as of now FYI

By: 37206 on 11/29/11 at 9:31

Wait, now it is up to 192.

By: eastsidedives on 11/29/11 at 10:13

I am pretty sure that 37206 is one of the Bakers. If so then can you please explain why you report other small businesses that don’t meet zoning while claiming to stand up for small business? Why are you different? You should also mention that your use is not permitted unless it meets specific requirements and that you don’t meet all the requirements. You keep complaining about Metro when in fact Metro has approved your use despite not meeting all the requirements. The only problem is that you have not lived up to YOUR plan.

By: 37206 on 11/29/11 at 10:18

can you please state what "requirements" must be met and tell me where to find them in the SP?

By: PKVol on 11/29/11 at 10:20

The business knowingly operated without a "use and occupancy permit" and now they are asking for support from the public? How do I know they will pay the taxes they collect or operate in a safe and healthy manner since they have not bothered to follow other laws already.

I can buy products cheaper from roadside flea markets, but don't because I suspect that the operators neither have the proper permits, pay taxes that they should collect or are selling products that have met safety standards. Just because these two have a store front, I don't see that they are operating any differently.

I love dogs, but I don't want a willful law breaker caring for them, regardless of their affinity for dogs.

By: 37206 on 11/29/11 at 10:57

You are right. Opening after a year of trying to work things out with the city is just horrible. Instead of 72 hours in Jail Chad Baker should be put to death. There is nothing worse than a small business owner fighting to open and business where there was once an adult video store. Hopefully they will start throwing all those people with home based businesses that don't have U&O's in jail too (there are close to 10,000 of them). God knows our streets will be much safer with all these horrible business owners off the streets and in jail.

By: SRJ on 11/29/11 at 11:56

Okay, Metro desperately needs additional tax revenue. We are being told that a property tax increase is just around the corner. And we are going to incarcerate a small business owner over something like this. Have you folks looked around that section of Gallatin Rd. lately ? It looks like a ghost town. Ramshackle (vacant) buildings that need to be torn down. Do you remember the "Adult Book Store" that Metro gladly handed out a permit to ? That so called bookstore was a safe haven for drug dealers, prostitutes and voyers. Again, where was Metro's concern then ? The SP overlay (does more) to keep legitimate business owners out, than it does to bring them in. I have spoken with numerous council people about this issue. I get the same answer from all of them. They agree, however, the powers that be in Metro call the shots. I am tired of paying more taxes for Metro's stupidity. Gallatin Rd is not Hillsboro Rd. I remember the former Council Woman telling me that she only wanted to see businesses like STARBUCKS on that section of Gallatin Rd. Well, how many people in this area... can afford $5.00 for a cup of coffee ? That is insane. I hope the Baker brothers prevail. We need a Dog Grooming facility far more than a PORN SHOP.

By: eastsidedives on 11/29/11 at 12:02

You keep touting small businesses, but it is phony to say you are standing up for small businesses when you report other small business for similar violations. Please tell everyone why you are different? Why do you think other small businesses should be held to the laws, when you should not? Also, you owned the building that housed the adult book store. You profited from it. I see no saint here.

By: RTungsten on 11/29/11 at 1:00

I'd like to see both of them in jail, actually.

By: dargent7 on 11/30/11 at 6:26

So, these guys think because it's a feel good business they're exempt from the law?
How about the hundreds of restaurants who want to sell liquor but don't have a license?
Or any restaurant who wants to open w/o the health/ code inspector certifying the place?
No fire marshall should check the place out, first?
Shut these guys down until they get the proper licenses. And fine them for their combined stupidity.

By: T-BONE on 11/30/11 at 7:08

Metro bureaucrats could screw up a wet dream! Start writing them NOW that we will not pay or tolerate a property tax increase! Remember when "they" told us that that damned football stadium , then that damned hockey rink would "solve" everything? If they are going to TAX anyone it should be the people who live in county's other than Davidson, come in here to make their money then leave, pay taxes and shop elsewhere! TAX THEM!!! BECAUSE WE WILL FIGHT YOU EVERY SQUARE INCH OF THE WAY ON A PROPERTY TAX INCREASE!

By: sidneyames on 11/30/11 at 7:44

37206 on 11/29/11 at 10:57
You are right. Opening after a year of trying to work things out with the city is just horrible. Instead of 72 hours in Jail Chad Baker should be put to death. There is nothing worse than a small business owner fighting to open and business where there was once an adult video store. Hopefully they will start throwing all those people with home based businesses that don't have U&O's in jail too (there are close to 10,000 of them). God knows our streets will be much safer with all these horrible business owners off the streets and in jail.

Yep someone told me the same figure of 10,000 businesses without proper licensing, etc. They said it would be too devastating to shut them down and/or retroactively tax them. I wonder if they would think the same if someone owed property tax? Not!

I'm sure a property tax hike, in the midst of property values decreasing, is what we are going to be faced with. It makes sense to some in government! (LOL)

By: eastsidedives on 11/30/11 at 2:57

The Bakers still have not explained why they are different than any other business owner in Nashville. The Bakers claim that there is no flexibility under the zoning when actually the fact that Metro approved the use in the first place proves that this is not accurate. Dog day care is permitted with conditions. The way I see it is that if you can’t meet the required conditions then it is not permitted. Metro showed flexibility when it approved the use when it did not meet all the requirements. The Bakers just did not live up to their end of the agreement and now want to blame the government for their backhandedness.

Another thing that everyone needs to understand is that Metro’s decisions are not made in a vacuum, but will impact other decisions all over town. Once they make an exception for one thing, then the door is open to more exceptions in the future. The neighbors in this instance may be ok with the Dog Spot, but the neighbors of the next business may not be so happy. And what if different business near the Dog Spot decides that they should also be granted an exception? Once the exception has been made, then it will be difficult if not impossible for Metro not to permit the next exception despite public outcry. It is indeed a slippery slope.

I don’t have an issue with the proposed use necessarily, but I do have a problem with the Bakers misleading the public to meet their own needs. Their very first posting on the East Nashville Google Groups was misleading – claiming that they were trying to close the porn shop when they in fact owned the building. They even threatened to open it back up if they did not get what they want. These kinds of tactics are totally inappropriate and should not be tolerated by anyone regardless of your stance on the business itself. Not to be redundant, but I don’t see how they can claim to be standing up for small businesses when they report other small businesses for similar violations. If you support the Bakers and you own a small business then you best make sure that you meet all the zoning requirements or you may have the Bakers reporting you to big brother. To me the bottom line is that they have made bad business decisions, purposely mislead the public and now expect everyone to come to their rescue. I say that we all make the beds we lie in, and the Bakers made theirs.

By: DogDaycareOwner on 12/1/11 at 3:12

I don't think the policy of "It's better to beg for forgiveness than ask for permission." is the way to go when you're doing business. I opened a dog daycare just over a year ago and guess what....I had to wait until I got all my permits and licenses! It's called following the legal system. You know what happens when you don't follow it? You suffer the consequences. Sounds like the Baker Brothers are not the kind of people I would want entrusting my dog with. In a state that has absolutely zero oversight on daycare and boarding facilities are you going to trust people who can't follow posted laws? Or find a place that holds themselves to a level of ethical responsibility that seems to be lacking with these gentleman? Just saying.