BLOUNTVILLE - A vote Monday by the Sullivan County Commission may have killed plans for a no-kill animal shelter on property owned by the Humane Society of Sullivan County.
But it hasn't killed the nonprofit group's determination to build the facility somewhere, President Regina Isenberg said Tuesday.
County commissioners denied a request to rezone about 10 acres off State Route 126 and Isley Road. Without the zoning change, the animal shelter can't be built there.
Isenberg said she and other members of the Humane Society of Sullivan County were disappointed by the commission's decision.
Saving lives of animals and finding them new homes will continue to be the group's focus, said Isenberg, but they'll be changing their name. The current name has proved a detriment, she said, because people often perceive it to mean the group is associated with county government and the county-owned animal shelter operated by the sheriff's department.
Isenberg said both entities - the volunteer agency that wants to open a no-kill shelter and the county agency that provides animal control - serve a purpose.
But with the commission's decision to deny the rezoning request, the Sullivan County Humane Society might move on to a different county and focus on being a regional facility, Isenberg said.
The group bought the 10-acre parcel off State Route 126 earlier this year at a cost of about $80,000, she said. It was their second choice. They'd been looking for property to buy for about two years. Their first choice carried too high a price tag for their donation-driven budget.
"Our first choice is still available," Isenberg said. "It's about 23 acres off Highway 75. It's zoned for business use - and already has sewer available. But it is $299,000."
The lack of available sanitary sewer service to the 10-acre plot off State Route 126 was cited by people who spoke against the rezoning request prior to Monday's commission vote.
Isenberg said the land now will be sold, and the group will begin to look for another place to build the proposed $500,000 facility.
"One door closes, another one opens," Isenberg said. "We were disappointed the commissioners did not see this as a community project. But the animals have the same needs today as they did yesterday."
She said maybe all the "awfulness" would in the end bring about a good thing: increased public awareness of the effort to open a no-kill shelter.
The group might hold a contest to help decide on a new name, she said, and in the meantime will be looking for suitable land on which to build it.
"We are in the market," she said. "So anyone who has some land, please contact us."
Donations to the effort may be sent to: Humane Society of Sullivan County, P.O. Box 654, Blountville, TN 37617.
There's also a continuing need for volunteers, Isenberg said. For more information call 239-5237.