Development has exotic cat owner’s claws out

By Tim Pallesen
Neighborhood Staff Writer, Palm Beach, FL Post

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Exotic cats are trying to hold their ground against the new housing developers at Gulfstream Polo.

A sign on Patricia Garvey’s gate warns of a leopard. She also admits to housing a cougar and a lynx on the 5 acres where she operates stables for polo ponies.

Garvey refused to sell her property when the developers moved in. Under the county’s development rules, the buyers of 866 new mini-mansions around her must be notified that dangerous class one exotic animals will be their neighbors. The regulatory category includes lions, tigers and Garvey’s pet cats.

Developers will ask county commissioners on Aug. 24 for site-plan approval to build the 866 homes on polo fields and horse farms that now surround the cats.

Garvey, fearing for the lives of her pets, doesn’t want the notifications.

“People will come out at night and shoot the cats in their cages,” a troubled Garvey warned the county’s zoning commission last month.

“These are personal pets. Nobody sees them,” she said. “You’re putting me in a lot of danger. You’re setting up my pets to be shot.”

Commissioners told Garvey that laws can’t allow her exotic cats to be a secret. They advised her to get an attorney before county commissioners meet on Aug. 24.

Garvey cares for 42 polo ponies at her farm during the winter season. She hopes to continue stabling ponies for Wellington’s horse owners after Gulfstream Polo closes next year.

Construction also causes Garvey to worry. “Access will be blocked for days at a time. How can I make a living being able to get 40-foot horse trailers down the road?” she asked zoning commissioners.

She also noted that a dump truck needs to get through to remove horse manure from her stables once a week.

Despite Garvey’s concerns, zoning commissioners on July 8 unanimously recommended approval for the Gulfstream Polo housing developments.

Westbrooke Homes seeks to build 442 homes on 221 acres. Developer Brian Tuttle wants approval for another 424 homes on 212 adjacent acres.

County traffic engineers say vehicle trips generated by the new developments will cause added congestion at the intersection of Lake Worth and Jog roads, which is already at capacity.


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