This rendering by Krieger Klattt Architects shows the proposed front entrance of the new Royal Oak Animal Shelter when it relocates to Bellaire Avenue.

This rendering by Krieger Klattt Architects shows the proposed front entrance of the new Royal Oak Animal Shelter when it relocates to Bellaire Avenue.

Photo provided by Royal Oak

Planning commission OKs site plan for new animal shelter in Royal Oak

By: Taylor Christensen | Royal Oak Review | Published February 7, 2024


ROYAL OAK — The Royal Oak Planning Commission Jan. 9 unanimously approved a special land use and site plan that will allow the city’s animal shelter to relocate from its current location at 1515 North Edgeworth Ave. to 2005 Bellaire Ave., near East 12 Mile Road.

The relocation is due “for so many reasons,” according to Jodie Ellison, shelter manager of the Royal Oak Animal Shelter.

Ellison said that the current shelter building is over 70 years old, resulting in many different issues that need to be addressed constantly.

“It was originally designed to be a pound, so it’s made out to be a holding facility,” she said. “In a situation like this, we would almost have to gut the entire building just to make it more user-friendly.”

Krieger Klatt Architects is the company working on this project. It is working to create a building shared between the animal shelter and an automobile dealership, which will use its portion of the building for a warehouse and vehicle storage.

The new building for the animal shelter will include kennels, quarantine areas, play spaces and viewing rooms inside the building, according to the special land use and site plan.

However, the new location will not have an outside play area for the dogs. This will not be a problem, according to Ellison, who said that in some ways it is even better for the shelter and animals.

“No. 1, we’re in an industrial complex right by the Kroger, so we get a lot of traffic,” she said. “Having them outside is a great thing, but there is also the chance they can get away and cross a major road. That could be a really bad thing.”

To make up for the lack of an outdoor area, the new location will have indoor areas where animals can exercise, and the indoor areas are going to have special shutters to access fresh air.

“The east wall will have three openings that will have infilled screen systems and overhead shutters to allow for the indoor-outdoor dog run on that side of the building,” Project Manager Jessica Gilbert, of Krieger Klatt Architects, said.

It is also a positive thing that the animals will not be tracking in outside parasites or dirt, Ellison said.

The indoor play area will provide playtime 365 days a year without having to worry about inclement weather conditions.

She said that the dogs will still get outside time, with volunteers taking them for walks periodically.

Modifications will still need to be made to the new building, as a division will be installed to separate the shelter from the warehouse that will be in the same location.

An interior wall will be installed to separate the two.

Ellison believes that the layout of the building will prove better than the current one. In the current building, cats and dogs are separated between two rooms, and to get access outside, the dogs must go through the cat room.

This is a problem because if the dogs go through the cat room, the cats cannot roam freely.

“We don’t have a place where the cats can safely be sociable,” she said. “They have to stay in their kennel, which is fine, but it would be nice if they could interact with other cats.”

She said this is important because most people want to know if the cats they are potentially going to adopt are friendly to other cats.

Planning Commission member Jim Ellison, who is Jodie Ellison’s husband, brought up the concern of noise between the two facilities, asking if insulation will be used in the wall separating the animal shelter from the warehouse.

Insulation will not be used, according to Gilbert.

“Is there any advantage to putting insulation in there, because you are going to have two competing noise-generating facilities, there are going to be a lot of barking dogs from the animal shelter and equipment running in and out of the storage area,” Jim Ellison said.

Kreiger Klatt Principal Jeff Klatt said that he and his team will be looking into that further.

Jim Ellison said during the discussion at the meeting that the attorney for the Planning Commission had reviewed whether there was any conflict of interest in his voting on the project, and because there was no financial advantage to him or his wife, the attorney did not see a conflict of interest.