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Wednesday, 28 November 2007 00:00

Sarge’s scraps plans for Hall Top shelter

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By Julia Merchant • Staff Writer

Sarge’s Animal Rescue has scrapped its plans to build a no-kill animal shelter in a location that was fiercely opposed by nearby residents.

The Haywood County non-profit originally won approval to build the shelter on Oct. 9 by asking the board of aldermen for a text amendment that would allow for animal shelters to be a permitted use in the Hall Top Road Rural District, a residential area located off Russ Avenue near K-Mart in Waynesville.

Only one resident of the district, Robert Hawk, attended that meeting.

When other neighborhood residents got wind of the proposed shelter and the aldermen’s decision, they immediately began protesting the plan. Seventy-five people packed the following town board meeting to ask aldermen to rescind the zoning change that would allow Sarge’s to build the no-kill shelter in their neighborhood. The alderman voted 3-2 to send the text amendment back to the planning board for review.

The Nov. 17 meeting of Waynesville’s planning board was to be a showdown between members of Sarge’s and neighbors who opposed the location of the animal shelter — but no one from Sarge’s showed. Instead, Planning Board Chairman Rex Feichter read a letter from Sarge’s president Doyle Teague that explained the organization’s decision to stop pursuing the piece of land in the Hall Top District.

The letter stated that the sellers of the property had decided not to extend the contract, and therefore the contract between Sarge’s and the property owners was dissolved.

The letter also said that the organization, “has decided to no longer pursue this property because of the strong opposition from the Hall Top community.”

Teague went on to say that, “Sarge’s originally thought the property was ideal due to what the zoning already allowed, such as veterinarian’s offices, waste management sites, etc.”

Sarge’s Vice President Rosa Allomong expressed her disappointment over the lost opportunity to secure seemingly perfect land for a no-kill shelter.

“That property was so good because it was so convenient for everybody, and the number of houses that were affected were far, far less than publicized,” she said.

Additionally, Allomong said the location was ideal because of its access to the town’s water and sewer services.

In the letter to the aldermen, Teague said that the organization didn’t realize the location of the shelter would cause so much controversy.

Nancy Bullock, a Sarge’s founder, agreed.

“This was very disappointing and very disheartening. We were very surprised that we got the reaction that we got, and we really feel the residents were misperceiving our intentions. I think they had a very different picture of what it would look like,” Bullock said.

In the end, though, Sarge’s realized there would be too much opposition to effectively do their job if they went ahead and built on the Hall Top site.

“There would be too much animosity and problems to deal with with those people there, and that would take our focus off the animals,” said Allomong.

“We really did not want to create any more ill will in the community. We want to be a good community member,” said Bullock.

Sarge’s will hold off on actively pursuing another location until after Jan. 1.

Besides the problems finding a site, the organization hasn’t had trouble drumming up community support for a no-kill shelter. Bullock said that Sarge’s has done well through fundraisers and private donations, and Allomong said people have been calling weekly with suggestions of property that could work as a shelter site.

Still, not securing the Hall Top site was a setback for Sarge’s. And now, it’s becoming increasingly important to find another shelter location.

“Do you realize how many animals are being put down every year? I think that’s pretty pressing. If we don’t get property, we won’t have a shelter,” Bullock said.


Sarge’s Story

Haywood County currently does not have a no-kill animal shelter facility. Strays and unwanted animals are turned over to the Haywood County Animal Shelter, which is at maximum capacity. Sarge’s takes adoptable animals from the county shelter and places them in local foster homes. The organization holds adoption days and posts pictures on its Web site to get the animals adopted. However, Sarge’s lacks a permanent adoption center. According to its Web site, the organization would ideally have a center with quarantine space, pens, outdoor runs, a cattery, and areas for training and grooming.

Another area animal organization

Haywood Animal Welfare Association, or HAWA, is a separate but equally well-known organization. HAWA’s primary mission is providing low-cost spay and neuter services for pet owners to help combat animal overpopulation. The group also puts on education programs, including visiting elementary schools with shelter pets to demonstrate the proper care and training of animals.

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