Planners OK humane office

Published 9:58 pm Thursday, April 23, 2015

The Suffolk Planning Commission on Tuesday recommended approval of a conditional use permit request that will technically allow the Suffolk Humane Society to operate a shelter on Kings Fork Road.

However, the society has said the location would be used mainly for office, storage and meeting space and would keep animals there for very limited amounts of time.

“We will not keep dogs there,” Denis Confer, Suffolk Humane Society board president, said during Tuesday’s public hearing.

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The humane society’s application states that up to five pets will be housed at the facility until transfer to an off-site adoption location or foster arrangements can be accomplished.

At the February Planning Commission meeting, which was delayed because of weather until March 3, several neighbors of the property at 412 Kings Fork Road expressed concerns about their property values, barking dogs and fencing that might be inadequate to contain animals.

Society representatives met with some of the neighbors, one of whom still expressed concern at this week’s meeting.

“They’re very nice people. If I were a fisherman, they’d be my fishing buddies,” quipped Martin Brown, who lives next door. “But it didn’t change my opinion of the building next to my property. There’s too much vacant land in the city of Suffolk to put it between two dwellings that people occupy.”

Brown also said he believes his property value will go down.

“Ordinarily when you improve a piece of property, it enhances the value of the property,” Brown said. “But in this case, I don’t think so.”

Mike Duman, a member of the society, owns the land. Confer said Duman told at least one set of neighbors when he purchased it that he was doing so with the intent to give it to the humane society.

Confer also said the society has offered to reduce the size of its sign, or even put it on the building itself, to ameliorate a concern about the sign.

Commissioner William Goodman, who seconded a motion by Jim Vacalis to approve, said he visited the site and believes farm animals used to be kept near there.

“I really couldn’t see a real big negative impact for what is requested here, because there’s ample land area,” he said.

The commission approved it unanimously. It will be heard by City Council on May 20.