Shoreham site a possibility for Kent as nonprofit looks to expand

01/29/2016 12:00 PM |

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Kent Animal Shelter may find a new home after all — in Shoreham.

Pam Green, Kent’s executive director, said the Calverton shelter is looking for a new location with assistance from Brookhaven Town officials. 

The nonprofit has spent several years trying to upgrade its 47-year-old facility on River Road, but because it’s located along the heavily regulated Peconic River, that effort has encountered several roadblocks.

Ms. Green said several alternative locations for the shelter have been suggested, including a four-acre farm in Moriches and a community center building in Shoreham, although those proposals have been rejected or withdrawn.

Brookhaven Supervisor Ed Romaine has backed Kent, but not necessarily at its current site.

“We are actively trying to find a home for Kent Animal Shelter,” Mr. Romaine said, adding that there is one parcel that’s available immediately to Kent and another that may be.

Glenn Gruder, an attorney for Kent, said in an interview Friday that he met with Brookhaven officials last Thursday to discuss the possible donation of the clubhouse at Tallgrass Golf Club — where a 100,000-panel solar energy field has been proposed — to the shelter. Mr. Gruder’s firm also represents the solar company Invenergy of Chicago, which plans to operate the solar field.

“The clubhouse is almost 20 years old and they don’t need it because nobody lives on a solar farm,” Mr. Gruder said. “It’s just wasted space. They don’t really want to knock the building down because it’s not that old a building. They’d like to donate it.”

Ms. Green said she wasn’t familiar with the Tallgrass building, but said, “We will take a look at whatever is put on the table. Right now, there is nothing definite on the table.”

At its current location, Kent is seeking a waiver from the Pine Barrens Commission under a restrictive state law that nonprofit Pine Barrens Society helped spearhead in the early 1990s. Kent must prove that its property has no “beneficial use” without a waiver or that the waiver is necessary for “the public health and safety” of the area.

Even if the waiver is granted, Richard Amper, executive director of the nonprofit Long Island Pine Barrens Society, which is not connected to the commission, has vowed to challenge the approval in court.

Mr. Amper reminded the commission of that at last Wednesday’s meeting, for the benefit of its two new members, Southampton Supervisor Jay Schneiderman and state Department of Environmental Conservation regional director Carrie Meek Gallagher.

“Seeing as there are two new members of the commission, we would ask the staff to advise them that the Long Island Pine Barrens Society has gone on record that this application doesn’t qualify for a core area hardship,” Mr. Amper said.

Nevertheless, Kent’s request for a hardship waiver remains on the Pine Barrens Commission’s agenda.

Last Wednesday, the Pine Barrens Commission once again granted a one-month adjournment to Kent, as it has done every month since August. The new deadline for a decision on Kent’s application is Feb. 17.

Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter has backed Kent’s effort, but it’s unclear if the proposal can garner three votes on the commission, which comprises representatives from the towns of Riverhead, Southampton and Brookhaven, Suffolk County and New York State.

Mr. Walter has maintained that Kent meets a compelling public need since there are no other facilities that spay with feral cats.

Kent has argued that a new facility at its current location would be more beneficial to the environment than the current facility.

Photo Caption: After years of trying to expand its facility in Calverton, Kent Animal Shelter may be moving west. (Credit: Tim Gannon)

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