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Sunday, September 19, 2021

 One year ago, the Gainesville City Commission ruled that 64-year-old Gainesville resident Bruce Baber couldn't run his dog-sitting business from his home because it was against city codes.

Baber has since been waiting for the commission to change its mind.

To his dismay Thursday night, the commission — in a 4 to 3 vote — again ruled against a petition that would allow dog-sitting businesses in single-family neighborhoods.

Mayor Craig Lowe, commissioners Scherwin Henry, Susan Bottcher and Todd Chase voted against the petition. Commissioners Thomas Hawkins, Jeanna Mastrodicasa and Randy Wells voted in support.

"We cannot make a decision for an entire city based on one person," Bottcher said.

After apologizing to Baber, Chase said residential dog-walking businesses wouldn't help his district.

About 10 residents voiced opinions of Baber's business, some for and some against.

Those against the petition said dog-sitting businesses would cause too much noise and too much traffic. Some of Baber's neighbors have already complained of excessive barking.

Baber's next-door neighbors, Michael and June Bowe, said it was simple: Commercial businesses should not be run in residential areas.

"It wasn't about Baber," he said. "We wish him all the best. But no commercial businesses should be in residential neighborhoods."

Those who supported Baber said his business wasn't disruptive.

Baber, who walked out of City Hall with his head down, refused to comment.

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Gainesville resident Bruce Baber, 65, walks dogs along South Main Street on Monday afternoon. He has walked dogs professionally for 25 years.

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