Geneseo animal shelter, city near land deal

Lisa Depies

The Henry County Humane Society-Geneseo could have a new home in the near future.

At their Jan. 10 meeting, members of the Geneseo City Council unanimously approved a resolution authorizing the sale of surplus public real estate.

The current animal shelter is approximately 60 years old. The building is owned by the city and space at the facility is tight, said humane society board vice president Amy?Gadberry.

The animal shelter is located on Roos Hill Road, next to the city’s burn pile. Originally, shelter board members had hoped to purchase 1.5 acres of city land south of the current location for a new shelter.

However, city zoning laws require the animal shelter to occupy a site zoned agricultural.

To be considered an agricultural site, the parcel must contain at least five acres.

City officials were concerned that issuing a variance to allow the humane society to have agricultural zoning with only 1.5 acres would set an undesired presedence.

Options, such as a long-lease on the land, were considered, but ultimately, humane society board members said they wanted to own their site.

An alternate location was proposed to the humane society board.

The new site is comprised of 4.8 acres, which city attorney Virgil Thurman said is close enough to the five-acre requirement that any variance needed wouldn’t cause an unwanted presedence.

Located east of Roos Hill?Road, the parcel encompasses the area between the road and the Cole Cabin land area.

A city park shelter and the city-owned dog park are part of the parcel.

If the land is purchased by the humane society, city superintendent Klint Rice said the park shelter would be moved to another location.

Humane society board president Karen Russell said her board plans to keep the dog park open to the public, if possible.

“We had no idea the property was a viable option,” said Gadberry, who added the humane society board is excited about the prospect of constructing a new building on the site.

Plans include building a 50x80 steel building with space for 11 or 12 dog runs, multiple cat rooms — including a kitten room, meet-and-greet areas, intake cat room and adult cat rooms — laundry facilties and storage space.

The project is expected to cost between $200,000 and $300,000.

“We’ll also breathe easier knowing we’re further from the burn pile,” said Gadberry, referencing a November incident in which embers from the burn pile started a fire at the shelter.

As public property, the land must sell for at least 80 percent of its appraised value. The land also must be offered for sale to the public, though Thurman noted “the humane society is the most likely bidder.”

“We’re working toward putting in place a pretty awesome opportunity for the humane society,” said mayor Linda Van Der Leest.

At the Jan. 10 meeting, the Geneseo City?Council also:

• Approved the purchase of a 2013 Ford Utility Police Interceptor vehicle for a cost, including add-on equipment, not to exceed $37,000.

• Approved an exception to the city’s liquor ordinance to allow Lee’s Lanes to serve alcohol starting at 9 a.m. on April 1 during the Illinois State Women’s Moose Bowling Tournament.

• Learned the unseasonable winter weather and lack of snow has allowed city staff to tackle projects such as tree trimming.

“The weather has really been cooperating for us, and we’re able to get a lot of little things addressed,” said?Van Der Leest.