Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

County Debates Fate of Dog Shelter Residents Complain of Loud Barking

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

County Debates Fate of Dog Shelter Residents Complain of Loud Barking

Article excerpt

Byline: R. Michael Anderson, County Line staff writer

Clay County commissioners will try to find a solution Tuesday to a problem that has dogged homeowners in the Grove Park subdivision for months and casts a cloud over the future of the Safe Animal Shelter of Orange Park.

Many neighbors want the county to close the no-kill animal refuge because they say the sound of barking dogs at the shelter violates the county's noise ordinance and disturbs their tranquility and sleep. Further, residents say, the county never should have permitted an animal shelter adjacent to a residential neighborhood.

Numerous complaints have been filed with the Sheriff's Office and in phone calls to commissioners in the past year. But only recently have steps been taken to oust the shelter from the neighborhood after officials declared that the county had mistakenly issued a permit for the shelter's construction last year on land not zoned for such use.

As Commissioner Larry Lancaster explains it: "It was an oversight."

The Safe Animal Shelter was cited in March for a zoning violation and was ordered to vacate the building, which is on Bartlett Avenue on land leased from the Clay County Utility Authority, but the shelter has refused to comply. The Code Enforcement Board is scheduled to review the case on June 7.

Commissioners decided two weeks ago to schedule another round of talks with Safe Animal Shelter advocates Tuesday in an attempt to solve the problem and avoid further legal action.

The county has offered to provide land on County Road 220 for a new shelter and the utility authority has offered to pay $50,000 for the existing building, which cost about $140,000 to build a little more than a year ago.

Shelter officials say they still would not have enough money to build a new facility.

At the last board meeting on June 8, Commissioner Patrick McGovern said he would favor letting the shelter stay put if the noise could be sufficiently dampened. He said he had been told by a member of the Safe Animal Shelter's board of directors that a conscious decision had been made to omit soundproofing material from the construction. …

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