Winsted PZC OKs dog training facility expansion, with conditions

Photo of Emily M. Olson
The Canine Education & Wellness Center at ECAD on Newfield Road, Winsted.

The Canine Education & Wellness Center at ECAD on Newfield Road, Winsted.

Contributed photo /

WINSTED — The Planning & Zoning Commission has approved a dog training facility’s expansion plans, but with many conditions intended to protect the facility’s neighbors.

The PZC asked for public comment on the ruling before voting unanimously to approve the project’s site plan, requiring Educated Canines Assisting with Disabilities to apply for a special exception use permit to do the work.

Dale Picard, owner of ECAD, said he thought he was “all set” and was ready to begin the expansion.

“I tried to start the concrete project at the bottom of the driveway near the dumpsters a few weeks ago, and as soon as I did, the neighbors called the land use office and they told me I had to stop,” he said.

The commission asked for public comment before voting on the site plan after being advised to do so by attorney Kevin Nelligan, the town’s legal counsel.

“Under the rules, you can’t settle a zoning decision without a vote,” Nelligan said. “So you’re voting on the proposed settlement with a public hearing.”

“The purpose of the hearing was not to litigate or argue, but to decide whether or not this should be settled with a special exception use permit,” PZC Chairman George Closson said.

The commission on June 4 proposed that ECAD apply for the special exception before filing the site plan. “That (proposal) was thought to be a denial, but it wasn’t,” Closson said.

The commission voted Tuesday to approve the plan with conditions, including requiring a silt fence around the building during construction; that the applicant immediately obtain a building permit; that ECAD have an engineer study water quality annually; that ECAD’s hours be 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily; that the roof have a non-reflective material on its surface; that landscaping be used to buffer noise coming from the building; that the new building have a lock box for emergency access; and that the applicant will have a performance bond on the project in place for five years.

The commission also ruled that ECAD during the project must replace any dead plants.

ECAD is constructing a second building next to its original, 25-year-old facility on Newfield Road, where it raises golden retrievers and trains them to be assistance dogs for people with disabilities, PTSD or medical conditions. The dogs are bred at ECAD, then raised and trained by foster families until they are old enough to begin training to become a service dog. Once they are placed with a client, they undergo further training before graduating and going off to a new home.

The building will have indoor kennels, an expanded training area and additional office space, according to the site plan. The exterior portion of the project calls for new plantings and fencing and a new driveway leading to a larger parking lot by the buildings.

When ECAD proposed its expansion, neighbors objected, saying it was noisy, brought too much traffic onto Newfield Road and was disturbing their homes and wetland areas that were being flooded. But the facility is allowed, according to Winsted’s regulations.