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St. Croix County animal shelter project snagged up by variance request

A key St. Croix County panel handed a mixed bag to supporters of a proposed animal shelter seeking to build a facility outside Roberts.

Though the St. Croix County Board of Adjustment on Friday, April 26, approved a conditional-use permit for St. Croix Animal Friends, it tabled action on a pivotal variance being sought. The permit allows the use of the property, but the proposed building can't be constructed without the variance.

St. Croix Animal Friends is seeking to build a shelter-boarding facility in the town of Warren on land the group owns. The group is asking the board to waive commercial kennel setback requirements due to land limitations on the 6.5-acre parcel.

The requirement calls for setbacks to be at least 300 feet from all property lines.

Board of Adjustment Chairman Buck Malick said the problem isn't a question of willingness to support the project. Rather, he said the variance presents a challenge for the panel after the county already changed its setback ordinance for kennels from 700 feet to 300 feet.

The group needs to demonstrate a hardship in order to dictate the variance, Malick said. Without a convincing case, he said the board may struggle to set such a precedent.

Friday's action puts the animal shelter issue in a holding pattern while county staff gather more information in time for the May Board of Adjustment meeting, where the matter is expected to be re-examined.

The meeting represented the latest development in a years-long saga to construct an animal shelter in St. Croix County. St. Croix Animal Friends received a conditional-use exception for an animal shelter in 2010, which was followed by a 2012 exception allowing an extension for the project, which included a boarding kennel facility, an increase in the number of dogs allowed at the facility and other structures on the property.

The board's approval expired in 2015 when construction of the facility never commenced.

The latest request does not include the additional structures — a covered pavilion or an amphitheater — though the group hopes to pursue those projects in the future.

Friday's meeting also saw approval of a conditional-use permit for an indoor mobile shooting range to be allowed at a town of Somerset gun shop. The board approved the request to allow Blind Squirrel Gun Shop to add a 53-foot semi trailer that will be redesigned into a soundproofed three-lane indoor shooting range.

Mike Longaecker

Mike Longaecker is a regional/enterprise reporter for RiverTown Multimedia. His coverage includes St. Croix County government, higher education and state politics in Wisconsin. 

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