Roice-Hurst expansion may help control noise

Photo by William Woody—Denise Lashmett, director of the Roice Hurst Human Society located of D1/2 road, signals to a trio of dogs to be quiet after they were barking hysterically in their kennel at the facility Wednesday afternoon.

It’s no surprise dogs at the Roice-Hurst Humane Society in Clifton bark, yelp and make noise. But so do some of the hound’s neighbors.

Neighbors of the four-decade-old pound, 3320 D 1/2 Road, have been complaining for years to Mesa County Code Enforcement about the noise.

“We have gotten written complaints from more than one (neighbor) and numerous calls,” Code Enforcement Director Donna Ross said.

The issue is peaking now because the no-kill shelter is looking to amend a temporary conditional-use permit, obtained last year to place a trailer on site for office space. At the time, the county insisted on more noise mitigation and “threatened to shut down the shelter,” former president of the society’s board of directors Lana Fergeson wrote in her 2008-09 shelter report.

“They were tired of getting noise complaints,” Fergeson said.

Some improvements were made, but now the shelter is looking to place a larger, permanent office building on site, touching off a new round of scrutiny.

Fergeson said the shelter needs to double its office space, which could cost about $40,000.

Denise Lashmett, shelter director, said the shelter holds 38 dogs and up to 40 cats daily. It has 12 outside dog kennels.

The recession and recent construction have added to the noise level.

Last year the shelter was inundated with animals from people who could no longer afford their pets. Also, the walls and other construction done in the winter caused the dogs to bark more than usual, Fergeson said.

Shelter officials said they already had two meetings with the Mesa County Planning Department and will have an informal meeting with neighbors sometime in the next two weeks, Ross said.

If the county approves of Roice-Hurst’s plans, construction would not occur until 2010, said Elaine Johnson-Craig, president of the society’s board of directors.

“Noise abatement is going to be the first phase (of remodeling),” Johnson-Craig said. “We certainly understand the neighbors’ right to peace and quiet.”

For some neighbors the noise abatement is long overdue.

In May 2008, Ray and Jennifer McCall, the shelter’s nearest neighbor to the west, filed a complaint with Code Enforcement. In 2002, they also complained to the county, opposing Roice-Hurst’s plans for a “cat colony,” saying barking dogs have taken away the peacefulness of their property.

Also in 2002, Ernie Pearce, who owned 10 acres north of the shelter, wrote a letter to the county.

“I have had difficulty with the noise from their operation for 12 years,” Pearce wrote.

But the shelter has been in place for decades.

“We were here first. You build a house here, so what do you expect?” Lashmett said.

As time passes more homes will continue cropping up around the shelter.

To the west, at the corner of D 1/2 and 32 1/2 roads, about a mile away, a proposal for a 229-lot development on 57 acres has been submitted to the county. To the northwest, 464 33 Road, the county approved a plan to subdivide five acres into 25 single-family lots late last year.

One of the new neighbors said those who complain should move.

“The Roice-Hurst Humane Society has been there longer than them houses,” said Tamara Melgares, who baby-sits her grandchildren three days a week in a 3-month-old home north of the shelter. “That’s all people want to do is complain anymore.”

John Rogers, who has lived northeast of the shelter for 31 years, has learned to live with the noise — sort of.

“I just got used to it. I tune it out,” Rogers said.

But, he added, “I wish they’d move them out to the desert.”

The director of Mesa County Animal Services, Penny McCarty, knows something about dealing with neighbors and loud dogs.

“A lot of times what we try to do is manage which dogs are outside,” she said. “Or you have a dog that is a barker, like a hound dog, those are the ones we don’t put outside.”

She also said it is a good idea to consult with a sound expert to get advice on appropriate height of walls, where they should be placed, what sound dampening materials to use and other helpful suggestions.

Roice-Hurst has no plans to move, but it is working to mitigate its sound issues as more and more people move closer.

“I don’t know what more we can do,” Fergeson said. “We try the best that we can, but dogs bark just like airplanes make noise when they fly.”


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