Fight launched against Emma veterinary clinic
Neighbors of a large indoor riding arena in Emma are circulating a petition asking the Pitkin County commissioners not to allow a veterinary clinic in the structure.
The petition drive was started Thursday by Virginia Parker, who three years ago sold Pam Fisher the parcel on which her arena now stands. Parker said the petition drive is to counter a move by Fisher, who recently hired local public relations firm Darnauer Communications to promote her cause.
Parker has lived at the Happy Day Ranch, near the right-angle corner on Emma Road, since 1952. Fisher and her former husband bought the 25-acre parcel when Parker and her sister split off four lots from the ranch for residential development.
Fisher will ask the commissioners to approve the clinic Wednesday. It must be approved by special review, because Fisher’s building is in an agricultural and residential zone district. County planners and the planning and zoning board have recommended against approval.
Parker’s petition begins: “We, the neighbors of Happy Day Ranch, are opposed to the application by Pam Fisher … for a commercial Veterinary Clinic…” The petition cites the conflict between the proposal and the zoning and covenants on the land, and it asks the commissioners to deny the proposal.
“We’ve already got a lot of signatures from everybody that lives around here,” Parker said. She said she’s also gotten “a bunch” of letters from surrounding property owners expressing opposition to the proposal.
A letter sent out by Darnauer Communications announces that Fisher intends to link her vet clinic project with protection of open space in her Emma neighborhood. It suggests that Fisher will create a six-mile trail and ask her neighbors to place conservation easements on their properties to maintain agricultural use and prevent development. But it indicates she will only be able to do this if her ranch is made viable by having the vet clinic there.
Roberta McGowan, an account executive at Darnauer Communications, said the letter was not widely circulated, but only sent to 18 media outlets in the area. An information packet about the vet clinic proposal went to over 100 interested parties, McGowan said. She said some support exists in the neighborhood for the proposal.
“It’s mixed,” she said. “Some neighbors are for it and some are against it.”
Fisher could not be reached for comment.
Parker said she doesn’t believe Fisher has contacted many of the neighbors with her open-space proposal, or that she intends to go through with it.
“It’s just making something up,” Parker said. “They haven’t talked to anyone about easements.” She said she had heard that Fisher’s boyfriend had called one of the neighbors about the proposal Friday, five days after the announcement was released.
Parker isn’t sympathetic that Fisher’s riding arena hasn’t worked out as intended, and that she must now turn to the veterinary clinic idea.
“I know it’s her dream,” she said. “It’s too bad she didn’t put it someplace where it’s in accordance with the covenants and the zoning.”
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After nine months of being shuttered due to the COVID-19 crisis, the Wheeler Opera House will reopen for local acts. A touchless reservation system will be open to 53 people for in-person at the venue. Online live streaming also will be available.