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Panel OKs site plan for SPCA

Pooches, kitties and other creatures from the SPCA Serving Erie County that have called Ensminger Road in the Town of Tonawanda home for a half-century are a step closer to a new home in West Seneca.

The West Seneca Planning Board approved a site plan Thursday evening for the long anticipated 42,000-square-foot animal shelter at 300 Harlem Road.

As a larger building with more space for veterinary medicine, the new $9 million shelter will replace its counterpart in the Town of Tonawanda and become more centrally located for all of Erie County. Plans call for the building to be built on a roughly 10-acre lot on Harlem Road between Indian Church Road and Route 400.

The site plan proposal, submitted by Kideney Architects on behalf of the SPCA, has appeared on the Planning Board's agenda every month since last fall, but it was repeatedly tabled while final environmental details were ironed out.

Earlier this year, the project was approved by both the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the state Department of Environmental Conservation, after project plans were redesigned to make sure impacts to wetlands and waterways were avoided. The redesigned plans obviated any need for environmental permits.

The matter was expected to be approved at the Planning Board meeting in March, however, it was again tabled -- until Thursday -- as developers finalized engineering plans for the project.

When the proposal was initially introduced last year, SPCA Executive Director Barbara Carr said the organization hoped to be housed in West Seneca by 2014. Whether the delays will affect that date was not immediately known late Thursday.

Carr, at that time, said the SPCA was focused on meeting the community's desire to see the organization helping "as many animals as possible" and it was committed to moving toward increasing an emphasis on treating sick or injured animals.

In its early designs, the SPCA also sought to construct a 2,000-square-foot pole barn to temporarily house and convalesce farm animals at the new Harlem Road facility.

The project now moves into the hands of the West Seneca Town Board, which will likewise consider approval of the facility's site plan prior to the start of any physical development.

Carr said last year that the SPCA planned to first obtain approval from the town before it moved ahead with fundraising efforts for the project.