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Foxy's Cradle kitten rescue not permitted, township panel rules

Brian Myszkowski
North Whitehall's Zoning Hearing Board announced neonatal kitten rescue Foxy's Cradle violated zoning regulations at a meeting held Thursday, Dec. 20. An attorney representing the rescue said her clients would need to "regroup" before taking further action.

NORTH WHITEHALL, Pa. — A month after North Whitehall Township’s Zoning Hearing Board held a five-hour meeting to discuss an appeal for the survival of neonatal kitten care center Foxy’s Cradle, the local government has opted not to grant an appeal.

Thursday’s meeting lasted only about five minutes, with the board quickly agreeing Foxy’s Cradle owner Kandice Reinert violated a zoning ordinance by failing to apply for permits for a new use of her property on Overlook Road, and also agreeing that neonatal cat rescues are not permitted within an agricultural/rural zoning district, before going on to declare the applicant’s operation of a neonatal cat rescue shelter was a principal use in violation of the zoning ordinance.

Public comment was not permitted at the meeting, and Reinert’s attorney Kendra L. Eden of Fitzpatrick, Lentz and Bubba advised her client not to comment, noting they would need to “regroup” before taking any further action.

“Please know that there is a plan in place for both possible outcomes. We have always advocated and tried to be a voice for the tiniest of souls without a voice or other rescue option."
Post from Foxy's Cradle Facebook

Only a handful of individuals came to the meeting in person, with numerous people joining via streaming platforms.

Those who were in the North Whitehall Township Building held disillusioned appearances following the decision, congregating outside to quietly vent their frustrations.

Well over 100 individuals came to support Foxy’s Cradle during the last zoning meeting, which had to be held at a local fire company to accommodate the audience.

At that meeting, The township, represented by attorney Anthony M. Brichta of Norris McLaughlin, argued Reinert’s neonatal kitten support organization was not permitted to operate in her home due to zoning restrictions which limit the property to a single principal use.

Brichta emphasized that while “there's never been animosity on behalf of the township as to what this group is doing, or what they're trying to do,” the rules are unambiguous for all.

“But the argument that just because there's support for it, and just because it's good, means we can effectively disregard that zoning ordinance, not only is wrong, and this is, but it's just untenable for any township to operate that way. If there's a specific concern, the remedy is to change the zoning,” Brichta said.

In advance of the meeting, Reinert posted a message on Facebook discussing the matter, indicating she and her volunteers were prepared for further action no matter what happened.

“Please know that there is a plan in place for both possible outcomes. We have always advocated and tried to be a voice for the tiniest of souls without a voice or other rescue option. We have always tried to provide our community with education, awareness, rescue supports, and help, whenever we were called upon. We hope at the last hearing we were able to educate the township board and speak strongly enough for the little ones without a voice (but with a right to life) and convince them to allow our rescue work to continue,” the post reads.

“Foxy (my grandmother) always said, that good will prevail as long as you take the honest and high road. Time has always proved her statement to be correct. We know she is watching over us going into this meeting and will be right there cheering us on.”