Neighbors clash as dog fight continues

| 29 Sep 2011 | 10:04

    DINGMAN - The township is following up on a neighbor’s complaint about too many dogs at a residence, but it’s also looking at the ordinance that sets the limit. “We are sending a notice to the planning commission to review the ordinance regarding the number of dogs that can be kept at a residence in the township,” Supervisors Chair Tom Mincer said Tuesday. Pocono Woodland Lakes resident Erin Sharpe requested that she be allowed to have more than the three-dog maximum, as stated in a 1979 township ordinance. She has four dogs, she said, three Jack Russell terriers and a Labrador Retriever. Neighbor Jeff White wants the existing law enforced. “For the three years we have lived in Pocono Woodland Lakes, she has been breeding her dogs so at times there are as many as eight dogs,” he claimed at the supervisors meeting. “They bark for hours at a time,” he said. White lives two houses away from the Sharpes. “Even if the ordinance is not changed, it will not solve your problem. You’ll still have three barking dogs,” John Klemeyer, town solicitor, told White in reply. Sharpe and her family have been living in Pocono Woodland Lakes for 13 years and have a running battle with White over her dogs. White has claimed that Sharpe’s dogs are a neighborhood nuisance with their constant barking and that his son was bitten by one of the dogs. He also claims that Sharpe has been breeding dogs and to have a copy of a newspaper advertisement where she offers them for sale for $450. Sharpe says the puppies were a one-time “unplanned birth” incident. White’s wife, Kim, said further that the White’s daughter Allison is terrified of dogs and is forced to walk out of her way to the school bus stop to avoid the neighbor’s dogs. She further claimed that Sharpe’s husband, Keith, has encouraged the dogs to chase Allison. The Sharpes deny the charge and in turn claim that White has been verbally abusive of their daughter while she was out walking the dogs past the White home. White has denied that charge, but a neighbor supports Sharpe’s claim. “I witnessed Mr. White yell and scream at Chelsea, Erin Sharpe’s 16-year-old daughter,” said Neil D’Auria, who owns the house in between the feuding neighbors. “White is an annoying neighbor and gives everybody trouble. I heard him using profanity while hollering at Chelsea,” said D’Auria, who has been living in Woodland Lakes since early July. He went on to say, “He’s not a nice person, and Erin’s dogs are okay and don’t bother me. I keep my distance from the Whites.” Sharpe has filed “sexual harassment” charges against Jeff White for abusive name calling of her daughter, and the Pennsylvania State Police are looking into the matter. Last month Sharpe appeared before Dingman Township supervisors asking for permission to have more than three dogs until the oldest dog passes away. She was told that she is in violation of the zoning ordinance and a second violation notice was sent to her. That violation notice will come before the planning commission later this month. Chris Wood, the township enforcement officer told her, “Be prepared when you appear at the planning commission,” Sharpe recalled. Sharpe told the Courier she is not optimistic about the prospect of prevailing at the hearing. No matter how the hearing turns out, it’s unlikely to change any of the bad blood that has arisen between the Sharpes and Whites. Their neighbors have varying opinions of their own. Neighbor John Weiss has offered some support to White, characterizing the dogs’ barking as “a high-pitched yelp that goes on for hours and hours, sometimes as early as 6 a.m. and as late as 11 p.m.” Weiss also recalled an incident when he was forced to drive around to the front of the Sharpe home and blow the car horn, because one of the dogs had come over to his garage and would not let him get out of his car. Still another neighbor had a different slant on the situation. “The dogs have gotten into my yard, but for the past two years since she has increased the power of her electric fence, they stay contained. As far as the barking goes, Mrs. Sharpe keeps them inside more than usual (in the past),” said a neighbor, who asked to remain anonymous. “My philosophy is don’t bother your neighbors and don’t be too easily bothered by them.” John Oliveri, vice president of the Woodlands Lake Community Association, was at the supervisors meeting and he said, “It’s all in the president’s hands. I’m not involved in it at this time but I do know that when we have sent our security officer over to the Sharpes, they didn’t hear the dogs barking.” Sharpe plans to send one of her dogs to a relative if the planning commission does not recommend to the supervisors that the number of dogs allowed at a residence be increased. “This will be going on for a long time with Mr. White. I hope the Whites move,” she said.