Animal shelter plans move forwardAfter five years of work, the nonprofit St. Croix Animal Friends group passed a major hurdle in establishing an animal adoption facility in St. Croix County.
After five years of work, the nonprofit St. Croix Animal Friends group passed a major hurdle in establishing an animal adoption facility in St. Croix County.
On Thursday the St. Croix County Board of Adjustment approved a special exception request from SCAF and Warren Land Holdings to establish a commercial kennel at 638 Highway 65 in the Town of Warren. St. Croix County Planning and Zoning recommended the approval.
SCAF has made it their mission to find land, and then to construct and operate an animal shelter in St. Croix County. The facility will be built specifically for animals. It will be a place to reunite owners with lost pets, adopt new ones and learn about animal ownership.
About 30-40 people wearing SCAF’s signature purple attended the board meeting on Thursday. Many signed up to speak, but only three supporters of SCAF went to the microphone. No one spoke in opposition to the request.
The plan calls for SCAF to purchase land from Warren Land Holdings. The purchase was contingent upon obtaining the special exception request.
Closing on the six acres of land – formerly The Country Store – will occur sometime in September, said Sharon Elliot, president of SCAF, in a later interview.
The land is zoned commercial, and a kennel would be compatible with existing commercial uses in the area, the Zoning Board of Adjustment concluded.
SCAF’s plan calls for the farmhouse to be converted into an office for SCAF staff and volunteers. Several outbuildings, like the retail building and pole sheds, would be demolished. The large barn would probably stay.
The animal shelter itself would be new construction. The building is expected to be 6,000-8,000 square feet, and will cost an estimated $2 million, Elliot said. The cost will be covered by fundraising.
“We won’t be doing any boarding until we have sufficient funds and build,” Elliot told the board.
The board allowed for up to 45 dogs and 75 cats to be housed at the facility. When they get to those numbers, SCAF will stop accepting animals, Elliot said.
Because the building will be constructed specifically for animals, an advanced ventilation system will be used.
Keeping noise in check from both inside and outside the kennel was a major concern for both SCAF and the board.
To keep the inside noise between the walls the building will be sound-proofed, Elliot told the board. The architect for the building spoke to the board about various measures they planned to implement.
The board ruled that the building must be constructed to have a sound transmission coefficient rating of 55 or higher. An STC rating shows how well a building reduces airborne sound. At a 55 rating, very loud musical instruments or stereos can be faintly heard.
The board also stipulated that the external doors will have automatic closing mechanisms, as was in SCAF’s plans.
Because dogs bark, there will be unavoidable sounds outside. However, due to the topography of the property, SCAF members hope that sound will travel a minimal amount.
The location where the new shelter will sit is backed by a steep hill; across the road is a bluff. Highway 65 and Interstate 94, both in close proximity to the land, are typically busy, noisy roads.
“We tried to find a location that would literally contain the sound,” said Bruce Elliot, SCAF member. “I think the sound will go up, not out (toward neighbors’ property).”
Additionally, the board stipulated that dogs will be allowed outside only during daylight hours.
Public access to the facility will be limited to 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. Staff and volunteer hours are anticipated to be from 7 a.m.-10 p.m. daily.
SCAF planned to contract with a licensed animal waste handler to dispose of the feces, rather than apply it to the land. The board stipulated that they need to have regular removal to minimize the potential for noxious odors.
Getting the approval was a relief, Sharon Elliot said.
“I can take a few deep breaths now,” she said.
Now that SCAF has property, the fundraising can begin – and quickly.
The board set a timeline of one year to commence use of the site for an animal shelter facility and commence construction of the new shelter building, and two years to complete it.
“I’d love to see it done by then,” Elliot said. She added that more fundraising options are available now that they have land.
Should troubles arise, SCAF will be allowed extensions of up to six months, not to exceed one year, before the special exception permit expires, the ruling states.
Should anyone disagree with this decision, he or she needs to file an appeal in St. Croix County Circuit Court within 30 days of the board’s decision.
The Town of Warren planning commission has already voted to recommend approval of the concept plan for the facility. The Village of Roberts board expressed their support during last month’s meeting.
“It’s just so exciting,” Elliot said.