The County Council voted 4-3 Tuesday to approve spending $500,000 on a new animal shelter proposed by County Executive Habern W. Freeman.
The building will be leased by the Harford County Humane Society to house stray, abused and unwanted animals.
Two weeks ago, the council delayed action on the request until Oct. 16 so that architectural information on the project could be sought. However, at Tuesday's council session, the bill was resurrected early when Councilman Frederick J. Hatem, D-District F, introduced an amendment, which initiated 40 minutes of debate and a vote.
Hatem's amendment -- voted down by the council -- proposed releasing $50,000 for planning the shelter. It would have held the remaining $450,000 in an account for the project until plans could be reviewed.
Later in the meeting the original bill was brought up and passed, 4-3.
Voting against the $500,000 appropriation were Hatem; G. Edward Fielder, D-District E; and J. Robert Hooper, D-District D. They said the council should have access to architectural plans before approving the project.
No detailed architectural plans for the shelter exist.
"The current building is cramped and crowded, and they do need a new building, but I am concerned that to put up front the whole half-million without seeing any plans may not be a good way to go," Fielder said during the debate.
Councilwoman Barbara A. Risacher, D-District A, argued that the council routinely sets aside money during the county budget process for future capital projects without approving plans ahead of time.
In expressing her support for the bill, Councilwoman Joanne S. Parrott, R-District B, compared the services of the Humane Society to the services provided by county volunteer fire companies.
"The fire companies do their own fund-raising, but the county gives $2 million to the fire chiefs' association. This relieves the taxpayers of Harford County of a very huge burden," said Parrott.
"The Humane Society is serving a purpose for us. It's a partnership for animal control, and that $500,000 building will belong to the county."
Parrott said she planned to introduce a resolution at the council's Oct. 16 meeting to appoint a committee to oversee the project in an attempt to put other council members' concerns to rest.
The new shelter would be built at the Humane Society's 25-acre site in Fallston on Connelly Road.