In a unanimous vote the Mendham Township Committee passed an ordinance limiting the number of dogs allowed on a residential property to seven in response to a series of complaints from home owners on Thackery Lane.
"It’s a good mechanism because it doesn’t make limits on the number of dogs people can own, but designates it so that if there are more than seven then the property is considered a kennel," Mendham Township Attorney John Mills said. "And kennels would be a business that is prohibited to operate in the township."
There is a provision that a kennel could be operated on a property of 50 or more acres, but Mills said there were no properties that matched that description in Mendham.
"We had to come up with a number that was a presumption of a kennel," Mayor Sam Tolley said.
Homeowners from Thackery Lane spoke at the meeting, their ire leveled at the property owned by Vincent Carraba. Neighbors say the dogs barking there and the quantity of dogs housed there are a detriment to their quality of life.
"I believe when I got to sell my home that my asset is going to be worth less because of someone else on my street," said Thackery Lane resident Ted Maglione. "I would suggest that if this continues my neighbors and I lobby for some sort of tax appeal."
Maglione also was concerned about enforcement.
"If you have seven white poodles and if you switch the collars no one is going to know," Maglione said. "It may seem far fetched, but not on Thackery Lane."
Carraba spoke to NJ.com back in December, and while he admitted to breeding and showing rottweilers around the world, but scoffed at the notion he was running a kennel out of his Mendham property.
"My dogs have never been loose, never bothered no one," Carrabba said to NJ.com. "They’re not barkers. You go down my street, you wouldn’t even know I had dogs."
Ted Maglione's wife Joyce said the ordinance didn't go far enough.
"Seven is too many, it doesn’t do us any good," Joyce Maglione said. "There is no provision for litters. You could have 70 dogs."
Committeeman Rick Merkt said finding the number was a challenge.
"Its not easy to pick an exact number," Merkt said. "But what we’re trying to do is create a measure to determine what is commercial use.
Fellow committeeman Frank Cioppettini expressed his frustration with the outcome.
"I’m just upset we haven’t been able to appease everyone here. But we’ve done the best we can," Cioppettini said.
Committee member Rob Strobel also said that the committee could revisit the ordinance down the line.
"We need to look at this in context of the whole town. And we tried to strike a balance. We have now put the burden on someone with more than seven dogs to prove they are not a commercial enterprise," Strobel said. "And we hope that will take care of the problems we heard about. This is one of the harder things we had to do as a committee because we are affecting people’s quality of life. We struck a balance today and we may have to come back and look at that balance in the future."