NO Paws Animal Rescue can begin accepting dogs again

Okanogan County issues Conditional Use Permit

OROVILLE – Carrol Richards, owner of North Okanogan Paws Animal Shelter and rescue announced Monday that the county has issued a Conditional Use Permit allowing her to again take in dogs available to be adopted.

“We are up and running… just getting the word out. We’ve been waiting for this for three months now. From what I saw of the permit there were no conditions attached. It just said CUP granted,” said Richards.

Hearings Examiner Dan Beardslee
Hearings Examiner Dan Beardslee Gary DeVon/file photo

She applied for the permit on April 8, 2016 after complaints from neighbors brought the fact that she didn’t have a commercial kennel permit to the attention of the county and a cease and desist order was issued. This order prevented her from taking in more dogs, but allowed her to continue adopting out dogs that were already at the kennel.

The Conditional Use Permit, or CUP, was issued after a hearing last month in which Richards and a number of supporters of the shelter, as well as opponents, mostly neighbors who live below the Richards property, testified for or against the CUP. Several members of the Ellis family, who own homes below the Richards property were also appealing the county’s May 24, 2016 Determination of Non- Significance in regards to the SEPA (State Environmental Protection Act). The appeal was filed by Kimberly, Richard, Mary, Robert and Jan Ellis.

The Hearings Examiner, Dan Beardslee, held the hearing on June 23, 2016 as well as making a visit to the site. He listed 34 Findings of Fact in issuing the permit. One of these was that “testimony revealed that there are no other facilities in Okanogan County that provide the service provided by the subject facility.”

Prior to the cease and desist, several local police departments, as well as the Okanogan County Sheriff’s office, take stay dogs to NO Paws, rather than housing them themselves or having them put to sleep.

Beardslee concluded that all procedural requirements of the Conditional Use Permit had been met and that the animal rescue was in compatible with the county’s Interim Zone Code.

“The conditions imposed will protect public health, safety, morals and general welfare,” writes Beardlee in his conclusion.

He also writes, “Matters related to the adequacy of the existing access easement traversing adjoining properties are outside the jurisdiction of the Hearings Examiner and the parties to this application and appeal were so advised. It is appropriate to condition the approval to require the applicant to maintain legal and perpetual access” and “Okanogan Public Health finds the method of waste disposal to be adequate.”

He said there was no credible evienc to suggest contamination of a dug well on Ellis property was the result of any activities by Richards.

Richards said Hearings Examiner Dan Beardslee did not add any conditions she had not already addressed.

Richards said she has heard the neighbors are looking into bringing a lawsuit against her and her business regarding their well, something Ellis family members brought up during the hearing regarding the appeal of the DNS in regards to the SEPA.

Carol Richards, testifying before the hearings examiner while she was seeking a Conditional Use Permit to operate a dog kennel from her property. Gary De Von/file photo
Carol Richards, testifying before the hearings examiner while she was seeking a Conditional Use Permit to operate a dog kennel from her property. Gary De Von/file photo

“At this point the lawsuit is a rumor. The Health Department has been here three times and passed us all three times… so I don’t understand other than they are going to continue harassing me with what ever they can come up with. We have a hearing on the twenty-first, because I filed for a cease of harassment petition,” said Richards.

She said the neighbors are taking pictures and videoing everyone that comes and goes up the easement to NO Paws.

“Besides putting up gates and steel post on the road boundaries and putting a sign on my bridge that says it may be unsafe and to ‘travel at your own risk.’ The bridge is brand new..and they know that,” she said.

I asked the sheriff about all the signs..’No trespassing…private property..local traffic only’…they are all over the new gate at the end of the drive near the highway. He said that anyone can buy those signs it doesn’t mean they are legal,” she said. “They can put up the gate and close it but we don’t have to close it… and we won’t.”