P.A.W.S. fetches Planning Commission approval for shelter

Modular building should be installed this year

The Paradise Animal Welfare Society (P.A.W.S.) will soon have a warm place for stray dogs and cats to stay temporarily—a place that won’t be a willing volunteer’s house.




The Gunnison County Planning Commission, at a regular meeting on Friday, March 12, approved P.A.W.S.’ application for a 1,430-square-foot modular building. It will be located on county-owned land next to the Public Works building on Highway 135, just south of the town of Crested Butte.
P.A.W.S. president Rita Clement says the building is complete and in storage, while the contractor hired to install it could be able to remove the snow from the lot and start construction by this spring.
“The contractor is going to try to break ground by the end of April,” Rita Clement says. “He’ll be finishing off the back part of the building, where the kennels will attach. The kennels are all ordered and it should be done by the end of the summer or before.”
The new shelter will have enough room for eight kennels and up to eight cats, an isolation room, and animal runs that are fenced all the way around to keep dogs in and wildlife out.
The Land Use Change permit approval was nine months in waiting, as the kinks were worked out between the people of P.A.W.S., Gunnison County and the Gunnison County Electrical Association (GCEA), which owns the property that the driveway accessing the property crosses.
“If we had owned the piece of property, things would have gone more quickly. Since [P.A.W.S. will be] leasing the parcel from the county there are permits in the county name and the county had to be the one to file for amendments,” P.A.W.S. secretary Dave Clement says. “While P.A.W.S. is the only thing on our plate, they’ve got other things going on.”
The Clements say there are still a couple of loose ends to be tied up before things are finalized for the shelter. P.A.W.S. is still in search of an Individual Sewage Disposal System, or ISDS, building permits from the county, and permission from GCEA to access their property, which borders the county’s land.
An ISDS permit for the facility couldn’t be issued until a public hearing had taken place Friday and the Planning Commission had approved the application for the land use change. Now, after a nod from the commissioners, Dave Clement says the ISDS and building permits should come “in a timely fashion.”
County Director of Public Works Marlene Crosby is also trying to get the well permit for the property that will start water flowing once the building is installed.
Crested Butte Attorney and County Commissioner Jim Starr has been working with GCEA to secure permission for P.A.W.S. to use the driveway to the property. He says that after discussing the matter, the GCEA board of directors thought issuing P.A.W.S. a license for the use would be the best way to go.
“That way, in the case that P.A.W.S. doesn’t use the facility any more, there wouldn’t be any questions about access,” Starr says. “I’ve been working with them for a year and a half and we’re in the final drafting process.”
“It’s great news [the application was approved],” he continued. “Those folks raised a lot of money for this and we need to honor that and get this finished.”
When the shelter is finished, it will house dogs and cats that are picked up in Crested Butte, Mt. Crested Butte or Crested Butte South by law enforcement. However, P.A.W.S. won’t be able to take pets that are surrendered by their owners or anyone else.
“It’s a rescue facility for dogs that are picked up that are lost—not for dropping dogs off. We cannot take those animals,” Dave Clement says. “They have to go through the police, or we could be accused of stealing someone’s dog.”
Until the shelter is complete, the animals that are caught by police will be staying in the town’s kennels, or with one of P.A.W.S. volunteers. And even then, Rita Clement says, animals will stay in the shelter for only a week before finding a foster family.
“It will be warm and covered and a volunteer will come down to walk them,” she says. “But the idea is to get them back with their owners or into a new home if no one claims them.”

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