At Cavan Council Chamber
A proposal by the County Council to replace the dog pound in Crossdoney with new purpose built kennels in Belturbet was unveiled at the first meeting of the Cavan Belturbet Municipal District.
The site of former council area office at Creeny, Belturbet has been earmarked for the new kennels. When constructed the pound will have a capacity to hold 12 dogs and the first two pens will be whelping pens for pregnant bitches to facilitate them giving birth to pups.
The existing council office building will form part of the new admin, vet’s room and reception area for the pound.
Jim Lyng informed last week’s meeting in the Council Chamber in Cavan Courthouse that the most dogs that will be there at any one time is five or six, but during a busy time, like over Christmas, there could be eight or nine dogs.
“We have big turnover of dogs, but we get them out relatively quickly – we have a good relationship with a lot of animal charities, where we can re-home dogs,” said Mr Lyng.
“There are no hard and fast deadlines when we have to start this work. It is our intention to try and press ahead with it as speedily as possible.”
However new Belturbet Independent councillor, Brendan Fay was guarded in his response. He said the issue boils down to the noise factor.
“Whether that is day or night. It is grand promising that it is going to be quiet at night, but there are a lot of people living in the area who work late hours and there are also children in the area. It will have to be closely examined from the residents’ perspective – it is better to do that now, before it enters the council system.”
He said the proposal could end up being a “mess”, if it is not critically examined immediately.
Cllr Sean Smith (FF) echoed this sentiment: “It is very important to have dialogue on the issue.”
However Mr Lyng attempted to counter concerns over possible noise issues, noting that the council had “commissioned a noise report” and explained that this will form part of the application.
Mr Lyng gave assurances: “If we adhere to the recommendations in that report, it should keep the dog noise levels down at the critical times, which are from dusk to dawn”.
Cllr Fay’s retort was to ask the meaning of “should keep the levels down”.
Mr Lyng said that the report stipulates that if the suggested levels of insulation are put in the newly constructed kennels, “It will be within the acceptable levels”.
In the course of the meeting he also suggested, “that end of Belturbet has more or less exclusively commercial type properties”.
A number of councillors disputed this saying that a lot of people living in that area.
Peter McVitty wondered why consideration could not be given to locating to a remote rural site. And also asked, “How far has such a dog facility to be away from an occupied dwelling?”
Jim Lyng said then security can be an issue, and it would be less of a factor in an urban setting with the frequent footfall at the council premises and fire station. He pointed out that, “Dogs and dog pounds is an emotive issue with groups of people. There are no hard and fast guidelines in relation to distance – it is about noise levels. I think the closest house is 180 metres away.”
Cllr Patricia Walsh (FF) said that when she was out canvassing in the recent local election the issue was raised by Deanery Banks residents.
“They said it is very near to where they are living and the noise is a big issue. A lot of the residents felt that it is more suitable on a green area away from a residential area”.
She called for the noise report to be shown to the concerned residents in Belturbet.
‘Not fit for purpose’
The existing dog pound at Crossdoney was opened in 1987 and according to Mr Lyng it is now “no longer fit for purpose”.
“It requires substantial overhaul to bring it up to modern standards for a dog sanctuary. We looked at costings and what it would take to bring it up to an acceptable level – it was costing in the region of €343,000 to refurbish it,” explained Jim Lyng.
“So we looked at alternative sites around the county and we identified the old Council Area Office in Belturbet which was refurbished a number of years ago to a high standard with a view to developing the site attached to that for kennels.”
An architect had drafted drawings which were circulated to the councillors. Costings for the works were estimated at €165,000, which he said were “in or around half the cost” of developing the Crossdoney site.
The Crossdoney pound uses a septic tank and there “are environmental issues in relation to that”.
Mr Lyng added: “When it is completed there will be an opportunity to dispose of the site in Crossdoney and that will generate revenue which could be used to off-set the cost of the re-development”.
Mr Lyng also pointed to the Belturbet site’s proximity to the N3, making it “user friendly” for the public and staff.
“It makes good use of the excellent existing building there and is used by other sections, including the Fire Service and the Roads Department have a depot there – it will enhance that facility. It is a serviced site, connected to both sewerage and water network in Belturbet.”
Clr Sean Smith asked Mr Lyng in what way he could allay the fears of residents.
“Have you any other similar dog pound in any other county or town, that you could bring these people to see and illustrate that it won’t be a problem”.
“I will be the last to support anything coming that will be creating a problem in Belturbet. While I appreciate that we have to update and provide the facilities, but certainly we must be cautious in all of this – I would certainly be on the side of caution”.
Jim Lyng suggested organising a fact-finding mission to a dog pound in Dundalk close to a built-up area.
“It might be feasible to bring a group of people to visit that one to see what is the layout of it,” he said.
He also promised to walk through the plans of the new site in Belturbet with Cllr Fay.
Of the Belturbet plans Mr Lyng outlined: “It is our intention to progress it now to a Part 8 Application in order to get the works done. We will be then bringing it before the Municipal District meeting for approval probably in September. There is a deadline for processing the application – it will take from 10 to 12 weeks. We will then bring it back to you here for formal approval,” explained Jim Lyng.”
The plans will be available for inspection for four weeks in the County Council Offices and the plans will be published in The Anglo-Celt. There will be a period of consultations with members of the public who may have concerns.
The new chairman of the Cavan Belturbet MD, John Paul Feeley said: “We accept the need for development and perhaps it is a good site and I can see the logic of where you are coming from in terms of this proposal – but, obviously people are living adjacent to it who have concerns.”