Zoning Board rejects Tiger World bid

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BREAKING NEWS: Zoning Board rejects Tiger World bid


Story posted Mar 13, 2007 – 21:13:04 EDT


By Stephen Guilfoyle / Editor



After a meeting that lasted almost an hour and a half, the Chester County Zoning Board of Appeals unanimously voted to deny a Rock Hill woman’s request that would allow her to operate an exotic animal facility called "Tiger World" in north Chester County.


About a dozen county residents got up to speak against the request, all drawing rounds of applause.


One Tiger World issue should be resolved


Proposer Lea Jaunakais had asked the appeals board for a special exception that would allow her to operate a "cultural and entertainment" facility on about 41 acres on Simple Farm Road which is almost in Lowrys.


A zoo or wildlife park is allowed as a special exception in all the county’s residential classifications.


A special exception keeps the property in the same zoning classification, in this case Residential 2, but with other uses allowed than normal.


A zoo or wildlife park is allowed as a special exception in all the county’s residential classifications. 



The board also had the power to set other restrictions for the property above what is already in the zoning requirements to preserve the character of the neighborhood and protect other property’s value and health and safety of nearby residents.


Board member Helen Gantt made the motion that Jaunakais’ decision be denied because her request was incompatible with the residential district in matters of health and safety. Bud Clayton seconded the motion. The unanimous vote was greeted with applause. Gantt and Clayton were singled out by many opponents for handshakes, congratulations and thanks.


"We don’t need this," Gantt said after the meeting was adjourned.


Jaunakais made a presentation that lasted at least 30 minutes, laying out pictures of her property and detailing the kind of structures she wanted to build, structures that exceed the requirements in the Animal Welfare Act, which are enforced by the U.S. Department of Agriculture through its Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.


She had applied for an exhibitor’s license, but worked with other facilities in the past.


Several people got up to speak. Just one person spoke on her behalf, her father. Jaunakais was allowed several opportunities to speak again, and she rebutted what she said were misconceptions or inaccuracies people had brought up about her proposal or about other facilities where she has worked, especially the Metrolina Zoo in Rowan County, N.C.


The Zoning Board gave a specific rejection to Jaunakais’ proposal for Tiger World, but an exotic animal ban is an issue that remains for Chester County to consider. The ban was brought up as a reaction to Jaunakais’ proposal, as more and more details emerged about it.


The exotic animal ban isn’t just a ban against Tiger World. It would allow any exotic animals already in the county to remain, but allow no new ones to be brought in to new facilities, or no new ones at existing, licensed facilities.


Chester County Council will have a public hearing and final reading of the exotic animal ban ordinance at its second regular meeting of the month next week. It has been rescheduled to 6 p.m., Wednesday, March 21 to allow 15 days notice of a public hearing on the ban.


The county’s ban against exotic animals has been given two of three required readings, but it is technically in force, Chester County Attorney Joanie Winters told the council March 5..


As such, it would basically kill Jaunakais’ effort.


But Chester County Supervisor Carlisle Roddey said he was going to allow Jaunakais an opportunity to speak on the ordinance and her proposal. He said she can have 15 minutes to give a presentation she gave for him March 5 in his office.


But Jaunakais has told other media she may start thinking about having the facility elsewhere.


At Tuesday’s zoning board meeting, a man who spoke said she chose Chester only because the county did not already have an exotic animal ban in place, as do York County, Lancaster County and Fairfield County.


She denied that, saying she could have put her facility in Gaston or Rowan counties in North Carolina.


She angrily told The News & Reporter after the meeting that she was going to go on with her dream project,


"But not in Chester County."


Editor’s Note: The meeting was held after The News & Reporter’s press deadline for Wednesday’s paper. Check out OnlineChester.com and Friday’s edition of The N&R for expanded coverage.




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