MILTON — A Hope, the non-profit animal advocacy group, has received conditional approval from the Board Of County Commissioners to build an affordable spay/neuter veterinary clinic in the county.
This reverses a decision made by the newly appointed Zoning Board made at their first meeting on Nov. 21.
“We were denied a conditional-use request to build our clinic by the Zoning Board because they said we did not meet the criteria,” said Brandi Winkleman, president of A Hope. “The vote was a 4-4 tie and that meant we were denied.”
A Hope had been denied a rezoning request to build a clinic in the northern part of the county earlier this year when residents raised concerns about noise and stray animals running amok on their property.
Winkleman said the concerns were unfounded and made a video of her current location and grounds with 52 animals that were being transported to Panama City. There was no noise nor a stray anywhere.
Winkleman and her group went to commissioners with the same conditional request and they unanimously approved their request to build a veterinary clinic on 25 acres on Pine Blossom Road in Milton.
The location of the land is in commissioner Don Salter’s district. Salter made the motion to approve the request and A Hope was cleared to build their clinic. A Hope is already in negotiations to buy the 25-acre property.
“We have private funding, an old friend and dedicated animal lover who believes in us,” Winkleman said.
The private donor has agreed to buy the land and provide funding for the clinic.
A Hope does not have an estimated timeline for the clinic. Winkleman said as they move forward with the process they will have information to give to the public.
“We have no intention of selling any of the 25 acres for profit,” Winkleman said. “That is just how the land was divided.”
The parcels were sectioned into two 10-acre lots and one 5 acre lot. She said they could not come to an agreement on price for the 10 acre lots. However, the owner of the 25 acres was will to work with the group.
A Hope has also been looking at manufactured surgical building made by a company in Alabama.
The clinic will initially provide affordable spay/neuter services. A Hope will hire a veterinarian and eventually hire staff to to handle the workload.
“ I'm overwhelmed and overjoyed,” Winkleman wrote on A Hope’s Facebook page regarding the BOCC approval. “Those final 30 minutes of the night were filled with the most passionate words from Kim McCarthy, Carmen Reynolds, Christine Ellis and Cindy Pierce. We thank you. To know we have already touched so many lives is an amazing feeling.”