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County OKs 99-year lease for animal shelter

The Becker County Humane Society finally has a piece of land to call its own.

So to speak, anyway.

The county board agreed Tuesday to a 99-year lease agreement to allow the society to build an animal shelter on Highway 59 North, with room to board 25 cats and 25 dogs.

The lease takes effect May 1.

The board took the action despite objections from at least one neighbor, Curt Sittko, who voiced his concerns at the county board meeting Tuesday.

But Humane Society members filled the other dozen or so seats in the commissioners' meeting room at the courthouse, and they broke into applause after the board voted to approve the lease.

Commissioner Bob Bristlin abstained, because his construction company submitted the low bid and will build the shelter.

"We're going to hear a lot of howling (from opponents) but I'd like to get the lease going," Commissioner Harry Salminen said before the vote.

"Howling? That's a poor choice of words," joked Commissioner Barry Nelson, who suggested the county revisit the lease agreement after a year to see if neighbors are satisfied.

But the board opted not to add that requirement.

"People will tell you whether it needs to be revisited or not," Bristlin said.

Under the 11-page lease agreement drawn up by the Becker County Attorney's Office, the Humane Society will pay $1,200 a year for the property, increasing 2 percent a year.

The shelter must be built within a year and meet all requirements of the planning and zoning department.

The Humane Society must also keep in effect fire and hazard insurance on the shelter, as well as general liability insurance to the tune of $300,000 per individual and $1 million per occurrence.

The Humane Society plans to build a 4,000-square-foot shelter on a seven-acre, triangular piece of land on Highway 59 just south of Cozy Cove Road.

The animal shelter will have separate air systems -- three furnace systems, for example, one for new animals or strays that often have multiple diseases that could be spread through a shared filter system; another for healthy animals; and a third for the public part of the building.

There are also special plumbing needs, including drains and water systems in each animal holding area.

And flooring will be installed that can hold up to chemical spray treatments.

The shelter will employ a full-time manager, who will supervise volunteers that will walk dogs and help keep the animals happy and the shelter running well.

Donations of cash, volunteer time or in-kind labor and material from pet-lovers and Good Samaritan contractors are welcome. Call 847-0511 and leave a message.