Emotions ran high Wednesday evening as Webster Park residents argued against construction at a veterinary clinic that they fear could bring more noise and traffic to their insular neighborhood. But despite the protests of about 40 residents - and a petition that held signatures of about 120 - Spring Valley's plan commission took the first step to allowing that development. Proponents argued it's important to keep a business in town.

The commission voted 5-1 to recommend the city rezone a lot at 101 Oak St. from residential to commercial so Stephen Dullard, owner of adjacent Ancare Veterinary Clinic, could expand his building and parking lot.

The issue still will need a vote by the city council before Dullard can proceed. Commission member Bob LeClercq voted against the motion.

"Zoning is supposed to protect the neighborhood. Zoning is not supposed to protect anything else," LeClercq said.

His comment drew applause from several in the audience. Commission member George Forsa disagreed, voicing the opinion that carried the board.

"I think there's a higher purpose here that goes to the community as a whole," Forsa said.

Throughout the meeting, Dullard, architect Alan Russell of Phalen Steel and Tim Phalen, also of Phalen Steel, presented their site utilization plan, while residents intermittently voiced their concerns. Earlier in the afternoon, Dullard's consultants at Phalen Steel worked quickly to adapt their plans in light of a letter from city engineer Jack Kusek outlining some of those issues.

"Paramount was my concern for safety, noise suppression and odor control… and I believe we have more than adequately addressed those," Dullard said as he introduced his plan.

For more on this story, see Thursday's NewsTribune

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