Our Towns

Boise Planning & Zoning Commission votes to recommend annexation of land for new animal shelter; CUP also approved

The Boise Planning & Zoning Commission is taking up a request by the Idaho Humane Society to annex a 9.7-acre parcel at 8506 W. Overland Road, just west of Wal-Mart.

The nonprofit plans to use the land for a new expanded shelter campus. But some local veterinarians and others have concerns about the project.

The commission meeting,  held at the State Capitol, began at 6 p.m. but other agenda items were taken up first. The hearing for the Idaho Humane Society project began at about 6:15 p.m. More than 100 people are at the hearing.

Boise planners will make a recommendation to the City Council about whether the Humane Society land should be annexed to the city; the shelter’s purchase of the land is contingent on annexation. The planning commission makes the final decision on the Humane Society’s conditional use permit.

The commission could make a decision tonight on the items, or defer it to later meeting.

Commissioner Anne Barker said she had a conflict of interest because Dr. Ellen German is her veterinarian; German’s practice is within 300 feet of the proposed site, and she opposes the plans. Barker recused herself.

Commissioner Rich Demarest said he needed to disclose that his daughter had adopted a dog from the Idaho Humane Society a week ago, but he said he didn’t feel it would unfairly influence him.

City staff recommended approval of both the annexation and conditional use permit.

“I’m thrilled to hear of their agreement that the project is compatible with this area,” Dr. Jeff Rosenthal, executive director of the Idaho Humane Society, told the commission.

He said the shelter has grown in its mission, adding programs to enhance animal welfare and decrease the number of animals coming through the doors.

“Like every nonprofit, we’re constantly striving to meet the needs of our community,” Rosenthal said.

He said they aim to build a shelter that is warm and inviting for the public and animals. A key focus of the hospital is spaying and neutering the 14,000 animals that come through the shelter each year — 80 percent of cats, and 55 percent of dogs are not spayed / neuter when they arrive.

“Clearly there’s more work to do, and we need more space to do it,” Rosenthal said.

By 8 p.m., a total of 26 people told the commission how they felt about the proposal, with 15 supporting it and 11 opposing it. Rosenthal is now giving a rebuttal to the public comments.

Those who spoke in opposition said the proposed shelter, with a much larger hospital and dorm for veterinary students, is too expensive and ostentatious for a nonprofit that’s  a resource for low-income people. Some raised concerns that the nonprofit wouldn’t be competing directly with nearby veterinary clinics, and not paying any property taxes. Some said it should be located on the west side of the Valley to better serve the needy in that area. Two residents who live in the immediate vicinity expressed concern about the height of the facility.

The Planning & Zoning Commission voted unanimously in favor of recommending approval of annexation of the property, which will be zoned commercial. The commission also approved the conditional use permit.

 

Posted in Our Towns, Pets Unleashed