Calverton cat shelter plan purrs through its zoning hearing with no opposition

TIM GANNON PHOTO | Rex Farr stands by the portion of his Youngs Avenue, Calverton property on which the North Fork Animal Welfare League plans to build a cat shelter.

The North Fork Animal Welfare League’s plan to build a cat shelter on four acres in Calverton met with no opposition at a Zoning Board of Appeals hearing on Thursday and will likely be approved at the ZBA’s next meeting, officials said.

The ZBA hearing was on the issue of whether or not an animal shelter was a permitted use in the agricultural protection zone in which the property is located. The town code doesn’t specifically list that use.

Peter Danowski, the attorney on the application, said the character of Youngs Avenue wouldn’t be altered by the cat shelter because there’s already a dog shelter there and a landfill there. He said that livestock and animals are also common in the APZ zoning.

About 10 supporters of the plan were present Thursday, but only Mr. Danowski spoke.

“I see no problem with this application, we’re in favor of it,” said ZBA chairman Fred McLaughlin, who indicated a formal vote would take place at the Dec.13 ZBA meeting.

Once the ZBA approves the use, NFAWL must go before the town planning board for site plan approval.

The non-profit NFAWL has run Southold Town’s animal shelter since 1980 under contract with that town. Southold’s shelter handles dogs and cats, according to Gillian Wood Pultz, the executive director of NFAWL.

Riverhead Town’s animal shelter handles dogs, but not cats, and is right down the street from NFAWL’s proposed cat shelter on Youngs Avenue in Calverton.

The group is planning to lease four acres of vacant land from Rex and Connie Farr for a dollar a year for 99 years and build a 1,638-square-foot cat shelter, which would only occupy about an acre.

NFAWL plans to catch stray cats, spay and neuter them, and either release them or put them up for adoption, Ms. Pultz said in an interview.

“The cat population in Riverhead is out of control,” she said. NFAWL would not operate the cat shelter under contract with the town, she said.

The group received a $300,000 bequest from Patricia Toner Troxel of Mattituck for use in building an animal shelter and some of that money will be used on the cat shelter, Ms. Pultz said.

The Farrs, who own an organic farm on Youngs Avenue, have been active in animal rescue efforts themselves for many years, caring for everything from cats to birds to runaway cows to dogs that were slated to be euthanized.

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