Payson Humane Society officials said the town council needs to focus its efforts on helping them find a site to build a new shelter, and not on citing them for noise ordinance violations.
The issue was raised with Town Manager Fred Carpenter Monday at a meeting of the Citizens Awareness Committee, a political watchdog group. In attendance were Larry Stubbs, board president, and his wife, Carol Stubbs, who serves as the shelter's attorney.
"We're in a position now where we cannot get land to build a new, quiet facility," Carol Stubbs said. "The town doesn't seem willing to help us very much and yet the town is more than happy to threaten to cite us for barking dogs."
Stubbs was referring to the Oct. 28 council meeting when councilors debated proposed changes to the town's barking dog ordinance. At least two councilors, Robert Henley and Tim Fruth, asked Town Attorney Sam Streichman, to add language to the ordinance that would allow the shelter to be cited for barking dogs, while leaving for-profit ventures, such as kennels and grooming businesses, exempt.
A new facility, humane society officials have repeatedly emphasized, will be soundproof and all animals will live indoors.
Carpenter said that he did not believe the new ordinance would ultimately affect the shelter's operation, and that it wouldn't even be brought back to the council until January because of numerous changes requested by councilors.
"There's a bunch of things for the town attorney to look at,"Carpenter said, "so he's going to rewrite the entire animal code."
The humane society has a building fund but has been unable to find a properly zoned piece of property to build a new shelter. In part because the shelter provides a service the town would otherwise have to provide itself, the humane society board wants the town to help find a new site.
Shelter officials said one option the town is pursuing -- getting permission from the Federal Aviation Administration to lease them a piece of property across from the town's new maintenance yard near the airport -- won't work.
"I don't think most of the humane society (board) is particularly comfortable putting a $1.5 million to $2 million building on leased land. Surely there is something else out there," said Carol Stubbs.
On a visit to the proposed airport site Wednesday, Carpenter said humane society officials need to get over their reluctance to build on leased land.
"I want to lease long-term to them," he said, "and if they get a long-term lease with us they can take it to the bank. We're not going to cancel it, and if we do we have to buy them out of it."
As the two sides debate, time is running out.
"Our current facility is falling apart," Carol Stubbs said. "Very shortly, we will be in a position where our facility will no longer work."