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The board of adjustments and appeals ruled July 21 that a Goshen wildlife center is not appropriate use for 10 acres of land in Buckeye Trace neighborhood off U.S. 42.
After facing an onslaught of zoning violations and citations, Brigette Williams, founder of Second Chances Wildlife Center, appeared before the Oldham County Board of Adjustments and Appeals.
More than 20 supporters outfitted in green attended to represent Second Chances, and their attendance was matched by an assembly of Buckeye Trace homeowners who oppose the center’s location in a residential neighborhood.
Second Chances Wildlife Center is a 501c3 organization located off U.S. 42 near St. Francis School that provides rehabilitation and safe release to injured and orphaned wildlife.
Williams said she’s tried to get paperwork in order, but the process of filing permits and contesting citations has been confusing.
Zoning officials cited Second Chance Wildlife Center for failure to file appropriate building permits, violation of the county’s nuisance ordinance (maintaining a premises causing substantial diminution in the value of other properties) and operating a business out of a home.
Williams appealed the decision that labels her non-profit as a business.
In a previous edition of The Oldham Era, Urban said, “We came to the conclusion that when a large number of volunteers are involved, a non-profit organization is really a business.”
“Whether you make money or not is beside the point. Too much traffic is coming through there and that is not allowable in a residential neighborhood,” he added.
His reasoning came under fire at the hearing July 21.
Taft said, “The burden of the applicant is to justify that Mr. Urban made an error.”
In defending his decision, Urban said, “This has nothing to do with animal rights; this has everything to do with zoning.”
“It appears to me that the Williams bought the property with verbal approval from the previous director,” he said.
Urban cited three main reasons to justify his decision. The first was that the rehabilitation center expanded outside the pool house, contrary to what was originally proposed, he said. Second, Urban said the Second Chances website referenced education camps held at the residence. Finally, Urban provided documentation that the Kentucky Secretary of State list Second Chances Wildlife Center as a business at Buckeye Trace.
Deborah Kent, the attorney representing Williams, proposed that Second Chances be classified as a game farm – a permitted use according to the county’s zoning ordinance.
Kent quoted the Oxford Dictionary definition of game farm, in which a game farm is “a farm where a variety of wild animals are kept or bred, often with facilities for visitors to observe or hunt the animals.”
But her argument wasn’t well-received.
In a 3-1 vote, the board upheld Urban’s finding that a wildlife rehabilitation center is not a permitted use for property in a residential area.
Williams has the chance to apply for a conditional use for the property and/or appeal the decision in Oldham circuit court.
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