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Much community opposition to proposed horse hospital

Public opposition was widely expressed to allowing a property in Satterwaite, Pennsylvania, to be used for a proposed horse veterinary clinic. Testimony by opponents at a recent public hearing of the Lower Makefield Township Zoning Hearing Board urged that the board members use applicable zoning laws to disapprove requests for zoning variances needed for the clinic to open.

The property at issue is a house with a nearby barn; it was owned by the township. The property is currently in disrepair, making ongoing maintenance costs high. Two veterinarians, a married couple, purchased the property from the township in October of 2012, paying a total of $255,000 as the purchase price.

The parcel is 5.14 acres, and is part of a larger 233-acre farm acquired by the township at a $72 million cost some fifteen years ago. At the hearing, many of the opponents were local residents who strenuously argued that allowing the facility to open as a horse hospital would lower the value of nearby homes.

The recent public hearing was the third in a series of four scheduled to be held on the issue. One opponent noted that of 18 other equine hospitals currently operating in either Pennsylvania or New Jersey, none of them are situated either in or close to residential areas. Some also worried that the clinic would treat small animals as well as horses, but one of the veterinarians who currently has a small animal clinic located in West Chester, stated that it would remain there and not be moved to Lower Makefield.

Other concerns expressed by some opponents included whether the hospital's lights would be shielded from surrounding residences by suitable landscaping, and whether there might be polluted runoff contaminating local streams coming from the facility's stables, as well as concern over the storage of certain narcotics on the premises. Some opponents of the veterinary hospital have hired attorneys to represent them at the hearing board.

Source:  BucksLocalNews.com, "Opposition continues as Lower Makefield zoning board holds third hearing on plans for equine veterinary hospital" D.E. Schlatter, May. 22, 2013

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