Lease for Meriden Humane Society set to go before City Council

MERIDEN — The City Council is expected to vote Monday on a five-year lease for the Meriden Humane Society after the agreement was approved by the Finance Committee last week.

Although a state official recommended the city lower the number of cats allowed in the facility, the city ended up slightly increasing the number after shelter officials consulted with a Cornell University professor.

The shelter’s previous lease agreement for 311 Murdock Ave., a city-owned facility, expired in April of 2015. After negotiations stalled in October 2016, City Manager Guy Scaife informed humane society volunteers that they would need to vacate the building, citing a contentious relationship with city officials, hygiene concerns and overcrowding. Changes in leadership and an effort to clean up the facility and reduce the number of animals resulted in the city reopening the negotiation process.

The new lease runs through 2022, with the Humane Society paying $200 a month rent for the first two years and $300 a month for the following three years.

The original agreement stipulated no more than 75 cats and 16 dogs, but the lease now allows up to 82 cats.

In July, the Finance Committee vetted the lease and asked City Attorney Deborah Moore to redraft the agreement with greater clarity regarding utility payments and the number of animals. The committee discussed the lease again Aug. 2, but did not vote after a report from state Animal Control Officer Kelli Peet recommended lowering the number of cats allowed in the facility from 75 to 52. The report also recommended the society cease housing cats in three rooms.

Scaife said Peet’s recommendation came as a surprise to city staff and he asked the committee to once again postpone a vote for further review.

Peet did not attend the Finance Committee meeting last week and said she was not available to answer questions regarding her report, according to Humane Society board member Alexia Belperron.

Belperron then contacted Cornell University Assistant Clinical Professor Lena DeTar. Belperron said if the rooms that Peet said should not house animals were used anyway, the number of cats allowed in the facility could be 82….

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