The Fresno County Board of Supervisors has delayed for six weeks a vote on a proposed $6 million animal shelter/clinic west of Highway 99.
Supervisor Nathan Magsig made a motion to delay a vote on a rezone request by the facility’s proponents at Tuesday’s meeting.
Supervisor Brian Pacheco, who represents the district where the animal shelter would be located, seconded the motion.
The board then unanimously approved on a voice vote scheduling another hearing at its Tuesday, Oct. 23 meeting.
Board Tells Proponents to Hold Community Meetings About Project
The supervisors cited residents’ concern about traffic, noise, odors and the potential of dumping of unwanted animals in the neighborhood as the reason for the delay.
The board consensus was that the project proponents, Fresno Humane Animal Services, should use the time to better explain the project to residents and explore mitigation options.
The land belongs to Wesclo, LP, a corporate cousin to Derrel’s Mini Storage. The company is donating the land.
Magsig said that he supported the project because of the steps that have been taken.
“This is something that has impacted me and I thought a lot about it, and I am committed to the residents in district one to make sure that whatever goes here, it is the highest quality facility built,” Magsig said.
But Pacheco, acknowledging those in attendance who opposed the facility, said that he was between “a rock and a hard spot.”
“I support the project — the concept — but I believe there are some issues that have to be addressed,” Pacheco said, adding, “I believe we have to address these issues before we go to the next phase.”
Nonprofit Group Wants to Provide Better Facility
The location is in unincorporated Fresno County, hence the last word belongs to the Board of Supervisors. The nonprofit shelter wants the board to rezone the area from residential to commercial use.
The shelter now operates in the parking lot of the old county morgue at 760 W. Nielsen Ave.
“It’s miserable out here in this parking lot. If we don’t get to build this shelter for this community, it’ll be nothing short of tragic for these animals. It would be just an absolute heartache,” Brenda Mitchell, board president for Fresno Humane Animal Services, told GV Wire in an interview earlier this month.
Mitchell said the current location was only supposed to be temporary, lasting 90 days. The shelter has been there for nearly six years.
“This is not large enough for the quantity of animals that Fresno County has, so we have to work so hard to get them out, just to keep saving their lives,” Mitchell said.
She also cited being set up on blacktop as a big problem. This means things are hot during summer and not nearly warm enough in winter.
The shelter is home to 150 dogs and 60 cats. The new facility would contain 185 indoor/outdoor kennels with proper sanitation to avoid illnesses caused by overcrowding.
Online Petition Opposes Project Because of Traffic Concerns
But an online petition cites increased traffic at the busy Herndon/Grantland/99 intersection as the main reason to reject the rezoning request.
Mannie Camarena lives a half-mile from the proposed location and has organized a grass-roots movement against the bigger facility. She emphasized in an interview with GV Wire that it’s the traffic she opposes — not animals.
“It’s just the lack of infrastructure. It’s not the cause that they want an animal shelter. We’re not against animals. I love animals,” Camarena said. “We just can’t sustain it on that side of town.”
Derrel’s Mini Storage CEO Explains Project
“Our mission is to reduce euthanasia in Fresno County, with a nice, state-of-the-art adoption center. I think it will make a huge difference to the community,” Derrel Ridenour, CEO of Derrel’s Mini Storage, told GV Wire last week.
He said the shelter would be modeled on the state-of-the-art Miss Winkles Pet Adoption Center in Clovis.
Ridenour also said that the shelter would act as a buffer to reduce noise from Highway 99. Additionally, Ridenour said that he plans to eventually build a mini-storage site next to the shelter, furthering providing a noise buffer.