Coffee County Health Welfare and Recreation Committee discussed proposed land options for a new county animal shelter during its November meeting.
During a prior meeting of the full legislative body, Commissioner Margaret Cunningham brought before the commission a resolution that would set aside some property off of Highway 41 and Jail Lane for the site, yet in a surprise development Commissioner Dennis Hunt brought a counter proposal for a deal from the owners of the old Fann Salvage Yard, Southern Central Waste Services, who has sought to donate some land for animal control. In return the group wants to buy a strip of land across the back of the county property to make a parcel contiguous with their transfer station site in the Industrial Park.
At HWR, the original Jail Lane site was once again moved from near the highway to a two-acre spot behind the jail on the same property, but nearer the Southern Waste transfer station on Volunteer Court.
“We could still work with them on that,” Cunningham, who is not a member of HWR but has been tasked with identifying a suitable site for animal control by County Mayor Gary Cordell, told the board before the meeting began. “And they can contribute to the cost of the building wherever we are. That shouldn't be a deal breaker.”
One question concerning locations is whether it will be cheaper to build a new purpose-built facility or to retrofit an existing building at the Fann site.
“I know (the Fann building) is not big enough, so we would have to add on to it. And it definitely needs some structural work,” Chairman of HWR Ashley Kraft said.
Sewer access moves talks
Cunningham noted that key to the discussion is the availability of sewer to the sites. She said at HWR, “Whatever we do we need to be on the same song sheet, so we’re all planning to vote on the same thing and not all off like we did at that last meeting.”
Cunningham told HWR that the Southern Waste site was once owned by the county, and former Sheriff Steve Graves had built a shooting range on the site. It was at some point sold to Southern Waste for a transfer station.
“Southern Waste came along but they wanted to be out at the Joint Industrial Park (near the MDS Foods cheese plant), and that’s where they should have gone. That was the more appropriate place, but because of the more restrictive covenants in the joint industrial park, which is why there’s nothing out there -- they wouldn’t allow it to go out there,” Cunningham said.
Returning to sewer, Cunningham said that the closest sewer was immediately behind the jail. Hollandsworth noted that if the other sites were lower in elevation than the sewer, an expensive lift pump would be required.
“They’re claiming, and that’s what Dennis (Hunt) said last night, that if we had a building here for animal control, maybe we could build sewer to it. Animal control is the bottom feeder of the world, or the county, so I don’t see sewer, especially with demand for the megasite and sewer wanting to go out to (Exit) 105, I don’t see (it as a priority),” Cunningham said.
“Their plans are to develop all of this as commercial property. And they are hoping that the county gets in gear to run sewage. I don’t see that happening in my lifetime,” she said.
“I think the thinking is that if they give us this, somebody would get motivated to put a sewer there. But nobody cares about animal control, obviously because we’re still here trying to get a building. So it’s not going to happen if you put an animal control there,” Cunningham said.
“We need to go with a sure spot behind the jail. This spot is high and dry and near a sewer. I really think we need to give Southern Waste access, a right-of-way, in exchange for (funds) for the building.”
“I really think that if we could just hone in on this site by resolution and don’t get diverted... I know Dennis doesn't want to do that. I don’t know why, I don’t,” Cunningham said.
Kraft asked if the noise from the transfer station noise and traffic would interfere with the location.
According to Cunningham, traffic is “not what everybody says it is. And then you have that turnaround (proposed by the Industrial Board, then defeated by the purchasing commission) would solve that,” she said.
“I think they were going to give us this because it was low, and they weren’t going to do anything with it anyway,” Cunningham said.
“We need to have this by the January meeting… We have the passion for it on the full commission, we just have to be on the same song sheet, which we haven’t been,” Cunningham repeated from earlier.
“Every time I look at something, your signature is on it,” Commissioner Jackie Duncan told Cunningham earlier in the meeting. “You are really busy. You’re doing a fantastic job.”
As part of old business, Kraft said that a second animal control employee is needed. A budget amendment request will have to go before the budget and finance committee and full commission before that employee can be hired.
Kraft said HWR is searching for a second animal control vehicle that could be converted to the task.
Kraft will approach Sheriff Chad Partin for a possible transfer of a used or government surplus vehicle.
HWR is scheduled to meet again on Dec. 28 to approve a resolution specifying a location for the new animal control. If approved by HWR, the resolution would then go to the full commission for a vote on Jan. 11.