Expansion undecided for North Haven animal shelter

Expansion undecided for North Haven animal shelter

reporter photo

Incomplete site maps left Planning and Zoning Commission members unable to make a decision Monday on the proposed Animal Haven expansion.

The nonprofit, no-kill shelter at 89 Mill Road wants to add a 1,500-square-foot extension to the south side of the building, which has been under construction since September.

Renovations includes redesigning and reconstituting interior spaces formerly dedicated to cats. The extension will give the cats back their space plus add more room for quarantine areas, according to Animal Haven staff.

Commission members reviewed the shelter’s application for a special permit at its Dec. 4 meeting and was set to make a decision Monday. 

The shelter’s attorney, John R. Lambert, and John Torello of architecture firm Torello Associates presented two site plans to the commission. One was new showing the location of the proposed expansion, and one was the approved site plan from 2000.

However, discrepancies between the two maps confused commission members. They had expected to receive one map showing the proposed expansion and that the site was in compliance with the 2000 plan.

All things on a site plan must be maintained, and the new site plan had missing shrubs, sidewalks and fences, inconsistent with the 2000 site plan. 

Lambert said the site was “in substantial compliance” with the approved plan from 2000, except for the missing landscaping and deteriorated fences, problems he called “minor.”

However, “the information that’s there is not adequate, in our opinion, to evaluate the site plan for compliance,” said Alan Fredricksenland use administrator, or to determine if changes will impact the site.

Lambert presented a packet of information to the commission, and members said they wanted time to review the material. They asked Lambert for, and were granted, an extension on making a decision.

There’s also a legal question to settle. The residents of 81 Mill Road, Charles and Jane Soloman, want the commission to impose more conditions of approval on the site.

The Soloman’s home sits just south of the shelter, and their attorney, John Parisi, said to the commission that they’ve had to endure ongoing noise and light issues for decades.

Parisi requested the commission “impose reasonable conditions,” including turning off outdoor flood lights, planting a dense evergreen buffer, moving outdoor meet-and-greet animal pens and having an on-call contact person to deal with dogs barking when no volunteers are at the shelter.

Commission members were uncertain if they had the authority to impose such conditions, and if they could put new conditions on the entire site when Animal Haven is only applying for an expansion.

Commission chairman VernCarlson said the town attorney should be able to make a decision by the end of the week. Check myrecordjournal.com for updates.

The next commission meeting is scheduled for Feb. 5. 



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