The Town of Oyster Bay has closed a popular Massapequa cat shelter for code violations, after a neighboring business complained about odors from the site.
A town code enforcement officer on Thursday issued All About Spay Neuter Inc. a notice to immediately cease occupancy, after he saw more than 80 cats and kittens and smelled a strong odor at a storefront on Merrick Road.
The nonprofit's director, Joanne Monez, said Friday that representatives had talked to town officials on Wednesday about complying and thought they were on track to do so.
"This is such a happy place to be and for the town to be so abrupt for no reason it saddens me," Monez said. "We needed instructions on how to comply."
Town Supervisor John Venditto said the organization performs a "very constructive and valuable service" but needs to address serious problems. "The town here is looking to bring the business into compliance with town code," he said.
The nonprofit, which has a contract with the town to trap and sterilize feral cats and return them to their colonies, bought the property in November.
Next door, Reliance Healthcare Staffing provides home health care workers to private homes. Owner Dana Arnone said odor problems in the past six months have created an unhealthy environment for her employees. "In the morning when we open up our business, it's offensive," Arnone said.
Debra Ienna, who owns the building Reliance Healthcare Staffing occupies, said they tried to work with Monez before contacting town officials. "The smell is so bad in here people can't work," Ienna said.
The town cited the nonprofit for not having the proper use permit, construction or making alterations without a permit and creating nuisances. Monez said they installed an exhaust and ventilation system in response to complaints about cat urine.
Code enforcement officers returned Friday with animal control vans to remove the felines but found empty cages. Volunteers had taken the animals home the night before.
Diana Aquiar, Oyster Bay's deputy commissioner for planning and development, who visited the shelter Friday, said the shelter knew for four months that they needed to comply. They can continue to run an office on the site, she said.