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Animal shelter gets ‘no’ on plan — Health Department won’t allow septic tank

Q: What is the latest on the city’s animal shelter?

A: City engineer Mike McKenzie, a principal with WGK Inc., presented floor plans for an animal shelter to aldermen more than a year ago, and $100,000 is in the bank waiting to be spent on the project.

McKenzie was waiting on results of a soil percolation test done by the state health department to determine if a septic tank would be allowed. After an OK from the health department, the board will make a final review and they’ll advertise for bids.

But the health department is saying “no” to a septic tank.

“They told us we can’t use a septic tank,” McKenzie said, after Ward 1 Alderman Dorsey Cameron asked about progress on the shelter at the Tuesday meeting of the Brookhaven Board of Aldermen. “That throws a whole wrench in the pan. We’re working on it, that’s the best answer I can give you. That’s a big problem for us, but I’m not ready to say uncle yet.”

The current shelter sits at the end of a dirt road that winds past piles of debris at the city dump. Two rows of dog runs, about 18 total, are covered with a sheet-metal roof. Mayor Joe Cox said last year that one location considered is beside the transfer station at the landfill. It would back up to a wooded area which would give it shade.

Unfortunately, it also backs up to a large ditch.

McKenzie said the issue with having kennels there is the wash-down water. Animal waste is a lot harder to work with than human waste when it comes to removal.

“The problem is a discharge factor and the site is close to a ditch,” he said.

McKenzie said he’s talking with the health department about spray systems and other alternatives.

“The worst case scenario is to pick another spot,” he said.

Based on McKenzie’s preliminary plan, the shelter would cost about $150,000 including site preparation and construction. The final budget would depend on where the city builds it.