Land deal for animal shelter closes

Gary B. Gray • Apr 10, 2012 at 10:34 PM

The Washington County-Johnson City Animal Control Board is the proud owner of 6.6 acres off North Roan Street on which a new animal shelter will be built to replace its overcrowded and dilapidated facility.

Animal Shelter Director Debbie Dobbs said the board closed on the property at 3411 N. Roan St. on Thursday. The city’s allocation of $350,000 and funds from the Animal Control Board reserves were used to purchase the property.

Heyward and Cherry Sell reduced their asking price from the $900,000 appraised value to $500,000 — a price board members moved forward on following a 3-2 vote. County commissioners and board members David Tomita and Pat Wolfe voted against buying the property. Later, during the March County Commission meeting, they both lobbied for the sale. The commission decided at that point not to make the purchase and send it back to the budget committee.

Regardless, the property now belongs to the board, and a fundraising drive is gaining momentum to help fund at least $1 million to pay for what could be considered the shelter’s core building from which additional wings can be built.

“We bought it last Thursday,” said a giddy Dobbs, who has for years fought, listened, pushed, talked, argued, showed restraint and all other manner of emotion during the time it has taken for a breakthrough to occur. “There should be a sign going up very soon. I’m just very excited.”

When asked why the previous owners lowered the price so drastically, Dobbs said: “The Sells told us they came down on the price because they loved dogs and cats. They also had a pet pass away not too long ago.”

Coincidentally, the street on which the old shelter sits is Sells Avenue.

Board Chairman Rick Gordon said the focus now is on raising money.

“We do have some pledges and some checks already written, and we’ll probably try to hold one big fundraiser a month,” he said. “We have a family that is interested in a complete wing specifically for spaying and neutering. We also have a family that’s expressed interest in providing a barn for larger domesticated animals.”

Gordon said the board hopes to get started on construction by late summer.

“We’re all very happy about the turn of events,” he added. “That family (the Sells) had been offered much more for that land. We were told there had been individuals come to them and offer three times what they were selling it for, but they wanted us to be first in line.”

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