Like a Good Neighbor? Resistance to Animal Shelter in NW Fresno. - GV Wire - Explore. Explain. Expose
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Like a Good Neighbor? Resistance to Animal Shelter in NW Fresno.

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Hundreds of northwest Fresno residents attended a community meeting Wednesday night (Oct. 10) with a majority of speakers opposing a proposed $6 million animal shelter and clinic in the area.
Residents clad in Fresno Humane Animal Services shirts aired support for the project, too.
Whether it goes forward is up to the Fresno County Board of Supervisors, which will vote a proposed zoning change to accommodate the project Oct. 23. The decision rests in county leaders hands since the parcel of land lies in county territory, despite being surrounded by neighborhoods within Fresno’s city limits.
The meeting was called by Supervisor Brian Pacheco, in whose district the shelter is proposed. Last month, the supervisors delayed a vote on the rezoning so that the shelter proponents could address community concerns previously aired.
“I don’t know if we changed anyone’s mind,” Pacheco told GV Wire. Pacheco, as is his custom, didn’t disclose how he would vote.

The Project Details

Businessman and philanthropist Derrel Ridenour owns the 26 acres of land on Grantland Avenue, south of Parkway Drive.
His plan is to donate four acres and finance the construction of the shelter/clinic for FHAS. The nonprofit animal adoption agency says its current location near Nielsen and Teilman avenues on the parking lot of the old county morgue is outdated and too cramped.
Ridenour has said that the facility would be modeled on the state-of-the-art Miss Winkles Pet Adoption Center in Clovis.
Ridenour plans to use the remaining land to build a Derrel’s Mini Storage.

GV Wire Locator Map/Alexis DeSha

A Skeptical Neighborhood

Derrel Ridenour (GV Wire photo/David Taub)

Neighbors peppered Ridenour and FHAS board president Brenda Mitchell with questions and accusations.
Although things got testy at times, the crowd at the Dante Club, just south of the proposed location generally behaved well.
Residents expressed concerns over noise, pests (rodents, fleas, etc.), lower home values and safety to their children. The proposed center would operate across the street from Herndon-Barstow Elementary School.
“I want to be your neighbor and a good one,” Mitchell told the audience.
Some booed. One member said a Massachusetts real estate agent she spoke with said home values would decrease if an animal shelter is built nearby. Others were skeptical of such unverified information coming from an out-of-state expert.

Neighbors Ask ‘What if?’

Ridenour and Mitchell answered what-if scenarios and explained mitigation measures intended to alleviate neighbor concerns.
What if dogs escaped the kennel? Would they bite their children? Mitchell explained the importance of teaching children the proper way to approach animals.
What if the barking is too loud? Mitchell said they would mitigate such noise by making sure dogs don’t actually face each other when locked away.
What if the pesticides used to clean dogs affected the health of the children, a local teacher asked.
“What you describe is not reality,” Ridenour answered.

The Only Location

Neighbors asked why the shelter couldn’t be built elsewhere.
Ridenour told the audience that this would be the only location he is willing to fund. He already owns the land.
He noted that no taxpayer dollars would be used for the building or maintenance, which didn’t satisfy some. They wanted the shelter to be built in a more rural area, even if that meant using public funds.

A rendering of a proposed animal shelter on Grantland Avenue (Image/Fresno Humane Animal Services)

Jeff Roberts, a development consultant, moderated the event, along with Ridenour and FHAS staff members.
(Disclosure: Roberts works for the Darius Assemi, publisher of GV Wire. While Assemi is not involved with the project, the shelter is proposed near a neighborhood built by Assemi’s Granville Homes.)
 

Curiosity drives David Taub. The award-winning journalist might be shy, but feels mighty with a recorder in his hand. He doesn't see it his job to "hold public officials accountable," but does see it to provide readers (and voters) the information needed to make intelligent choices. Taub has been honored with several writing awards from the California News Publishers Association. He's just happy to have his stories read. Joining GV Wire in 2016, Taub covers politics, government and elections, mainly in the Fresno/Clovis area. He also writes columns about local eateries (Appetite for Fresno), pro wrestling (Off the Bottom Rope), and media (Media Man). Prior to joining the online news source, Taub worked as a radio producer for KMJ and PowerTalk 96.7 in Fresno. He also worked as an assignment editor for KCOY-TV in Santa Maria, California, and KSEE-TV in Fresno. He has also worked behind the scenes for several sports broadcasts, including the NCAA basketball tournament, and the Super Bowl. When not spending time with his family, Taub loves to officially score Fresno Grizzlies games. Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, Taub is a die-hard Giants and 49ers fan. He graduated from the University of Michigan with dual degrees in communications and political science. Go Blue! You can contact David at 559-492-4037 or at Send an Email