With a 6-2 vote, Spring Valley City Council voted to rezone 101 Oak St. from residential to commercial B2, allowing the owner, Stephen Dullard, to expand his veterinary practice located on the adjacent lot.
Both First Ward aldermen, Dan McFadden and Mike Richetta, voted against the rezoning, citing the concerns of their residents.
Richetta said he and McFadden had taken an informal survey of Webster park residents, finding 37 percent supported the project, 45 percent opposed and 17 percent had no opinion.
After hearing a lengthy discussion of proposed adaptations, Richetta said, "I still support the residents there,' before casting his "no" vote.
McFadden said many of the people he talked to were pet owners who were pleased with Dullard's care for their animals but still opposed the rezoning.
Even outside the First Ward, the issue stirred up a controversy in town. Alderman Jim "Uda" Taliano said most residents of his Ward favored the project, but he received a few calls from unhappy Webster Park residents, too. Second Ward Alderman Tom Nesti also collected feedback.
"I have never, never, never fielded the calls that I have fielded over this issue," Nesti said, referencing his 10 years in office. But after hearing from some Webster Park residents who support the expansion, Nesti voted in favor of rezoning.
Mayor Cliff Banks limited the discussion of dissenting residents to the three who were most vocal at the recent plan commission meeting.
"It's a no-win situation for anybody. I wouldn't want to be an alderman because they have two sides to look at," Banks said.
Through tears, Kathy Becker asked aldermen to look into their hearts when making their decision. Sally Showen reiterated the point, neighbors' primary concern is setting a precedent that would make it easier for other businesses to move further into Webster Park. Ania Peek, who lives next to the site in question, said she worried about noise, odors, rats, raccoons and declining property values.
More on this story in Wednesday's NewsTribune