For more than 30 years, East Amherst residents have complained about barking dogs -- as many as 40 at a time -- raising a ruckus at a kennel.
But now the din may be coming to end.
Amherst Town Court officials say they have reached an agreement with Geraldyn Obletz and Kimberly Bott, owners of the Shady Hill Kennels at 148 Muegel Road. In return for promising to close the kennel by the end of the month, owners will receive a conditional discharge of charges of maintaining a nuisance, officials said.
"I hope that the place closes. That's all I can hope for. And yet, I'm not counting victory until it closes," Joseph Baker, who lives near the kennel, said Monday.
Baker said he started complaining in 1969, shortly after the kennel opened, and has not let up. Over the years, he repeatedly organized neighborhood opposition, made a handful of appearances in various state and local courts, and complained to Amherst police more times than anybody can count.
How many times have officers been sent to the kennel to check on neighbors' complaints?
"Hundreds of times over the years," Amherst Police Capt. Enzio G. Villalta said.
"I don't blame (Baker)," Amherst Town Board Member Jane S. Woodward said. "He has been so patient. I don't think I could be that patient."
According to a letter Baker sent town officials last month, "22 dogs were howling all day," on July 29, when police were called to the kennel at about 9:30 p.m. and found the facility unstaffed.
At times, "The town just forgot about my complaints. . . . The owner hired very fine lawyers who just beat the hell out of the town's attorney," Baker recalled.
Baker attended a Town Board meeting Monday to urge Amherst officials to rezone the area -- now zoned as suburban agricultural -- to ensure that owners can't renege on their promises to close.
"I don't trust them. . . . I believe that rezoning will be the effective way," he told Town Board members.
"This has been going on for so long that it's hard to remember what has happened. . . . I want to put an end to it. I'm not against dog kennels, but people shouldn't have to live this way," she said.
Obletz did not return a phone call seeking her comment; Bott has told officials that she no longer is associated with the Kennel.
Town Prosecutor John Michalski confirmed that the owners will be granted a conditional discharge if they close the business before Oct. 4, the next court date.
"The charges will be dismissed if they hold up their part of the bargain," Michalski said.