Kent Animal Shelter seeks improvements

Having struck out in a previous effort to improve their facilities on River Road, Kent Animal Shelter now appears to have the support needed to carry out their latest plan. 

The 55-year-old nonprofit, which helps dogs and cats find home, will appear at a public hearing before the Riverhead Town Planning Board Thursday, June 1, at 6 p.m. 

Kent’s proposal, which was also discussed at a recent Planning Board meeting, calls for demolition and reconstruction of two existing buildings on their property. 

Those buildings are currently 3,981 and 1,045 square feet, and the proposal also includes site upgrades such as installation of a new sanitary system, site drainage and a landscaped buffer along the southern portion of the parcel. Town site plan reviewer Heather Trojanowski said that, unlike previous attempts to update the shelter, the expansion will not involve any increase in either building’s existing footprint. 

Kent plans to use the larger of the two buildings as shelter space and the smaller as an isolation room for new animals that enter the facility, according to executive director Pam Green. She said some of the buildings are 55 years old and are dilapidated. 

Chuck Bowman, vice president of Kent’s board of directors, said the shelter’s last upgrade effort, in about 2015, was sidelined by opposition, primarily from the Long Island Pine Barrens Society, which threatened to sue to stop the project. 

Ms. Trojanowski said the Central Pine Barrens Joint Planning and Policy Commission recently sent a letter saying Kent’s current plan is not considered “development” under its criteria and that no further review is needed. The proposal will, however, need a permit from the town’s Conservation Advisory Council, officials said.