LAKEVIEW — Poop fears, be damned — a neighborhood group in Lakeview voted to approve a new indoor dog gym despite a few vocal opponents who don't want more dogs on the block.
Neighbors who support Patricia Murguia, owner of a Zoom Room franchise at 3055 N. Ashland Ave., said she cannot be held accountable for all the negligent dog owners in the area who don't clean up after their pups.
"We cannot hold them responsible for the whole neighborhood," said resident Steve Stern.
South Lakeview Neighbors voted to approve a special-use permit for the planned indoor dog gym and training facility, 23-3, with one member abstaining.
Opposing residents said they feared that the already frustrating issue of dogs peeing and pooing in the area will escalate.
A burger and hot dog restaurant is scheduled to open next door.
"How do you know that the first thing [a dog] owner isn't going to do is [let their dog] pee or poop in the parking lot?" said resident Bill Haderlein. "Seems like a combination of dog urine and feces and food will not mix very well."
"Most owners are negligent," said resident Doug Liphardt. "I'll see some with a dog, a dog pees in the middle of the sidewalk, and the owner just says 'Well, dog's gotta go.'"
Murguia assured the group that she would try to keep the area free of excrement. Her staff will regularly police the immediate area, she said, and she plans to have poop bags and cleaning stations available.
Zoom Room's maximum capacity will be 35 dogs, which only happens for parties or fundraisers, Murguia said. Most classes will fit 10 dogs, and others will host six. And the target customer of Zoom Room is "conscious" of cleanliness, Murguia said.
"We want owners to be there with the dog," she said.
One man pointed out that there's been a dog grooming business in the neighborhood for years, with no complaints. And Joe Semerling, a member of the South Lakeview zoning committee, said if Zoom Room stops policing for droppings, the group can always appeal the license.
Even with that safeguard, people should realize that current poo problems exist because of bad neighbors, not a local business that has yet to open, some neighbors said.
"We can't hold this woman responsible because someone went into your yard," one neighbor said. "She can only do what she can do."