Rezoning proposal draws concerns

Published 12:00 am Friday, January 14, 2005

A group of concerned citizens had a lot to say over a possible rezoning Monday night.

Dr. Alethea Gammage, owner of Crenshaw Animal Clinic, presented a formal presentation to the Luverne City Council as well as the citizen's group during a public hearing regarding rezoning 3.74 acres of land off Hwy. 29 from R-S, residential farming, to B-3, business, for future construction plans.

"We're busting at the seams," Gammage said.

Dr. Gammage requested the rezoning after purchasing several acres of land off Hwy. 29 in order to relocate her business from its current location at 624 West 3rd Street, which does not have adequate clinic, retail or storage space or parking. She plans to use a portion of the 3.74 acres of land for a new, state-of-the-art animal clinic. The other portion, she plans to sell to another commercial business to help pay for the new facility.

The possibility of another commercial business in their neighborhood upsets neighboring homeowners.

"I do not want a filling station neighbor or a liquor store neighbor," Gammage said. "What I need to stress to everybody here is that I practice quality veterinarian medicine as far as surgery, diagnostic lab work and vaccinations. I'm going to be there too and I do not want anything detrimental to my business located there. I would want the other business to be appealing to me and my neighbors such as an insurance company, book store or specialty shop that would fit in a residential area."

Allen Sexton expressed concerns over the possibility of the animal clinic building being sold several years down the road and not knowing what type business would move into the facility.

"I'm there for the long haul, so what's going to happen," he said.

Gammage responded that she too was in for the long haul. She also said the facility would help draw future vets to the area.

"This community needs a veterinarian and I think it's important to this community," she said. "I'm in it for the long haul. In my current facility, no young veterinarian is going to come practice at my facility. They would have to build their own facility or work out of a trailer like I did for years before they can practice. This would be a building to stay; it's not going anywhere. Veterinarian clinics are typically designed where nobody else wants them. There's not going to be any other use for it."

Other residents were opposed to the rezoning all together. Many fear that the new business will depreciate the value of their homes.

"I think it's a very controversial issue," Larry Garner said. "I certainly feel for everybody involved, Dr. Gammage particularly, because from the very beginning I let it be known to her then that I was not in favor of it at all. I feel like there are very few areas that are strictly residential, particularly on a major gateway into the city. If you go in any direction, west, south or north, when you come into the town, you come into commercial areas. This is the most pleasing to the eye of any of the areas coming into the city."

Garner also expressed concerns about increased traffic.

Several other citizens expressed mixed feelings over the issue.

Although the Planning and Zoning Commission approved the rezoning request prior to the public hearing, the council referred the issue back to the commission during their regular meeting following the hearing so members could weigh restrictions and explore other alternatives.