Humane society gets green light for replacement facility


Danielle Danford | Staff writer

SPOONER – The Washburn County Humane Society received unanimous approval by the full Spooner City Council to build its replacement facility on Roundhouse Road during the council’s regular monthly meeting Tuesday, Sept. 5.

The humane society has been without a permanent facility since March when a fire severely damaged the building located on Cottonwood Street in the city of Spooner. The humane society organization has been sorting out insurance claims, maintaining their service to the local community and planning for the future ever since.

In order to purchase the property, the humane society needed the city council to approve a conditional use permit as the property is in a zoning area that limits certain types of buildings, like one the humane society needs.

“The biggest concern the planning commission had was the noise factor. There were other issues brought up, but those were not things that the plan commission had any control over,” said Gary Cuskey, Spooner mayor. The property’s CUP stipulates the humane society is subject to the city noise ordinance and prohibits the burial of animals on the property.

Vicki Shaffer, humane society board president, and Joel Weiner, humane society board vice president, were present for the city council meeting. After the meeting, they explained the humane society decided to not rebuild in the same location due to the space limitations there.

“The property is surrounded by wetlands. We were too close already to the street so we didn’t have any room there,” said Weiner. The board also decided that owning property could be beneficial to the organization in the future if they should need financing. The Cottonwood Street property was donated to the humane society by the city. Once the humane society relinquishes control of the property the city will regain ownership of it.

The humane society board is planning for the new building to be approximately 2,500 square feet, a 40-percent increase over the previous building. The organization didn’t get building plans drawn due to the pending CUP approval.

“It seemed foolish to do any of that stuff until we were allowed to do this,” said Weiner.

“Now that they are allowing it we can go full steam ahead,” said Shaffer. With the CUP approval the organization is set to purchase the property, get formal building plans and start a fundraising campaign.

Weiner said they were able to recoup most of the insurance money from the loss of the previous facility, but they haven’t seen it yet.

“It’s a mixed bag. They say it’s there but whether they give it to you in the end is…it’s an insurance company,” said Weiner.

The organization plans to write grants to help fund the building construction. Their hope is to get the building’s cement slab down before winter so construction on the facility can start next spring.