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FRG OKs key permit for new animal hospital

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FOX RIVER GROVE – An animal hospital that plans to relocate to the village in 2014, and be about a football field’s distance from another animal hospital, has won approval of the Village Board, against the recommendation of the zoning board.

The Village Board voted, 5-1, last week to grant a special-use permit to VCA Noyes Animal Hospital to open at 710 Northwest Highway.

During the same meeting, in a “housekeeping” item, the village unanimously approved a special-use permit for the Cary-Grove Animal Hospital.

Cary-Grove opened in June and later discovered it needed its own special-use permit.

Trustee Gerald Menzel voted against the VCA permit.

“I thought there was a legitimate concern on the health issue,” Menzel said. “I also felt it was too close; they’re next to each other. According to the law, I guess we can’t consider that ... [but] it was more the health issue more than anything else.”

During the review of both applications, the zoning board recommended denying the VCA permit. One zoning commissioner said having a similar business nearby “was injurious” and wondered whether VCA looked at other locations.

VCA plans to move to the new location from Lake Barrington in 2014, said Lorrie Nimsgern, the regional operations director for VCA Animal Hospitals. VCA has looked for a new location for two years because its lease in Lake Barrington is ending and company officials were not sure whether it would be renewed, she said.

VCA chose 710 Northwest Highway – formerly Blockbuster Video, Cash for Gold and a Mattress Store – because it wanted a site as close as possible to its current location, Nimsgern said.

VCA Noyes has about 600 locations around the country.

Attorney John Boyd, who represented Dr. Fritz Trybus, owner of the Cary-Grove Animal Hospital, opposed VCA’s request for a permit, citing a village ordinance that a “property shall not be used to decrease/diminish standards of surrounding property”

Trybus also spoke against the VCA petition. He cited health concerns and public safety concerns, saying VCA will be next to Jimano’s Pizzeria. He said VCA’s main walking area for animals would be close to the restaurant and run-off could go toward the pizzeria.

“The soil is bound to be contaminated with fecal material and everything that goes along with that fecal material,” Trybus said. “This location, if it’s made into an animal hospital, does put the public at risk.”

Trybus said his location doesn’t share a parking lot with other establishments and has a retaining wall. Other businesses within the strip mall mostly are offices. He acknowledge that at the opposite end of the mall is a Montessori school where children are kept inside or in a fenced area away from the animal hospital.

In a letter to the Village Board, VCA attorney Kelly Cahill said “control or restriction of competition is not a proper or lawful zoning objective.”

VCA would have more green space than the Cary-Grove location, Cahill said.

Cahill also pointed out that Cary-Grove Hospital is close to a Montessori school at the opposite end of its strip mall location. “If there is a concern about animal feces and spread of disease, the same risk would be present with a location near a preschool,” Cahill wrote.

Cahill said village officials have treated the permit applications by the two animal hospitals differently and said, “You need to look at the rights of the property owner and treat similar-situated properties the same way.”

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