Animal shelter may have found home near city’s airport

Dan Randleman, above left, addresses the Weiser City Council on Monday, describing the processes the Weiser River Animal Shelter and Rescue must follow in order to successfully claim a piece of property it has in mind as its new home and headquarters. Photo by Philip A. Janquart

This 1.5-acre parcel and building could be the future site of the Weiser River Animal Shelter and Rescue. It is located on the northeast side of the Weiser Municipal Airport and currently is not being used for any specific purpose other than storage. Council members along with Mayor Randy Hibberd said that it would be a perfect place for an animal shelter. Photo by Philip A. Janquart
Philip A. Janquart
The Weiser City Council on Monday approved a request by the Weiser River Animal Shelter and Rescue (WRASR) to move forward with a proposal aimed at rezoning property that would serve as the nonprofit’s future home.
 Zoned A-1 agricultural, the 1.5-acre piece of land is located on the northeast side of the Weiser Municipal Airport south of town off Airport Road. 
 The WRASR wants it rezoned D-2 industrial, the designation required to operate an animal shelter. Ironically, the airport property, which is commercially operated, is zoned A-1, an historic oversight airport Manager Jim Metzger said needs to be addressed in the very near future.
 A successful rezone hinges on county planning and zoning department approval, as well as approval by county commissioners, and includes a land survey. If successful, the WRASR will lease the property from the city at a yet to be determined price.
 Aside from the rezone, the group is tasked at obtaining approval of the Weiser Airport Board of Directors, which it has already done, and the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration).
 Shelter representatives came before the council on Monday effectively seeking direction efore moving any further in the process.
 “What we are looking for is input from the council as to whether we should forget the whole thing or go ahead and pursue it and work toward a rezone,” former councilman Dan Randleman explained on behalf of the shelter and prior to the council’s unanimous vote in favor of the project.
 The parcel appears to be a practical fit for its intended purpose considering its location and underutilized status.
 It is currently occupied by a building that has changed ownership over the years and would be repurposed as a dog and cat shelter and potentially house WRASR administration and services. 
 The WRASR is currently under agreement for the purchase of the building pending rezone, the bulk of the funds coming from a private, unnamed donor.
 “I can’t imagine a better place around here to put it,” said Metzger, addressing the council.
 A large group of shelter volunteers has tirelessly worked for over 14 months to find a home that would serve both city and county residents while helping to relieve problems with stray animals roaming city streets.
 Metzger suggested the site to the group because it is not reclaimable as agricultural land and costs the city time and funds to keep the weeds down. The surrounding farmland is also city owned and is farmed through a lease.
 “I’ve been taking care of that property for eight years now,” Metzger said. “Approving this will take that burden off [the city] and save some money because we have to treat it with chemicals.”
 Randleman, who is handling the “brick and mortar” aspects of the project for the shelter, told councilmembers the building was once a welding business that manufactured parts for NASA and The Boeing Company, before transitioning to an onion storage facility, and then to private storage. He added that it was also once a car crushing and recycling site.
 He said much of the property is currently overrun by brush and various types of debris.
 A large portion of the property is covered in a thick layer of gravel. 
 “We made an effort to reclaim that ground and turn it back into farm ground,” Metzger said. “After 10 days, we were only halfway there. The farmer did briefly think he could put some topsoil on there, but after looking at it said it’s just not reclaimable.”
 Weiser Mayor Randy Hibberd expressed his full support of the location’s rezone.
 “We’ve had issues with having animal shelters here in town and this group has worked to try and come up with solutions for that,” he said. “So, what they are looking for is to find property at the airport, and build a shelter there … I think it would be a great solution, and we don’t seem to be able to find very many other solutions.”
 Councilman Larry Hogg agreed.
 “It’s a great place for this facility … so, if we could work out something there, I think it would be a great idea,” he said.
 The council, in a motion made by councilman Sterling Blackwell, ultimately approved moving forward with the rezone for the 1.5 acres.


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