Dog training company withdraws request to use 5 properties

Published 12:16 pm Tuesday, September 6, 2011

COURTLAND—A Walters company has withdrawn requests to train military dogs on five of nine Southampton County properties.

“We heard residents’ concerns and we just decided to withdraw requests for those areas,” said Paul Roushia, co-owner of American K-9 Interdiction.

Properties no longer being considered are on Melon Field and Three Bees roads in Newsoms, both owned by Denise and J.C. Bunn III. Others are on Odom Chapel Road, East Depot Street and south of General Thomas Highway west of Cypress Bridge Road, all in Newsoms, belonging to the Joan Bunn Life Estate.

Jenny Bunn and her husband, Blair, who live on Three Bees Road, were among those who spoke publicly against the training.

The Board of Zoning Appeals during a 7:30 p.m. Monday, Sept. 19, public hearing still will be asked to grant permission for training at the former Boykins Elementary School at 17219 Pittman Road, owned by the county; the former Ivor Elementary School at 7486 Proctor’s Bridge Road, also owned by the county; on property on Crossroads Drive near Franklin, owned by Green Waste Recycling; and on property at 36465 General Mahone Boulevard owned by Charles and Kathleen Clark in the Berlin-Ivor area.

More than 100 attended a standing-room-only public hearing on Aug. 15 before the Board of Zoning Appeals. The hearing was postponed when the seven-member board did not have a quorum — a majority of its members present for making a decision.

One week earlier, Jenny and Blair Bunn were among nearly 10 residents who spoke against the training during a Planning Commission meeting. Residents complained about the sounds of cannon fire, automatic weapons, machine gunfire, and homes and windows shaking.

Residents initially experienced the training in February. When a resident reported it to county officials, the company was given 10 days to stop.

Roushia said his company has done similar training in Isle of Wight County, Suffolk, Newport News, Chesapeake and Virginia Beach. Permission was not needed.