Supporters, opponents speak out on controversial Barrington Animal Hospital plan
Supporters and opponents spoke out last week on the Barrington Animal Hospital's plan to relocate and expand its operations into a former bank building on Northwest Highway.
The proposal came before the Barrington plan commission, which will issue a recommendation to the village board whether to approve or deny the plan. After hearing from residents, owners of neighboring businesses and others, the panel postponed its decision until its Nov. 12 meeting.
"That's one of the reasons we're continuing this, so we can get more input," Chairwoman Anna Markley Bush said.
The animal hospital, at 216 S. Northwest Hwy., wants to renovate the former Fifth Third Bank location up the road at 353 W. Northwest Hwy. to install an office, kennels, grooming area, boarding suites for 132 dogs, and indoor and outdoor play areas.
The hospital's proposal includes two additions, adding a total of 9,660 square feet, along with parking, landscaping and signs.
"We've had a lot of growth; we've outgrown the (current) facility," said hospital owner and veterinarian Barb Stapleton. "We need a new home, and we wanted to be in Barrington."
But the new location sits next to the Barrington Community Childcare Center and a golf course at Langendorf Park. That puts the animal hospital at odds with its potential new neighbors, who have concerns about noise, traffic, odor and dog waste.
Terri Blanke, owner of the child care center with a daily attendance of about 70, said the animal hospital will drive down property values.
"I have several concerns about this project, the first being overall safety," she said. "And I am really concerned about the enormous size of the building."
Several parents who send their children to Blanke's center also attended the plan commission meeting. One of them, Eric Stahl, said it isn't easy to find good day care options in Barrington.
"It definitely would've influenced my decision to bring my child to her day care," he said of the animal hospital.
Developer Bob Edwards, whose RWE Management Co. built the current animal hospital and is overseeing the new project, said he has extensive experience with similar work, and Blanke's safety concerns are unfounded.
"These are multimillion-dollar facilities," Edwards said. "They couldn't exist if they posed a danger to the community."
Safety wasn't the only concern raised Tuesday. Barrington Park District Executive Director Teresa Jennings said the district wants a fence separating the animal hospital and golf course at Langendorf Park.
"We're not a country club; we're a park district," Jennings said. "We represent the taxpayers. Very simple: We would like a fence."
Edwards described several steps the hospital would take to address other concerns, such as odor. For example, exercise areas would be furnished with a pet turf that would be cleaned immediately and sanitized twice a day.
"It seems like the major concerns that we confront are related to sound and odor," he said. "We don't like the smell of dog waste and we don't like the sound of dogs barking any more than you do. So we take these concerns very seriously."
Commissioners were noncommittal, calling for another neighborhood meeting and a continuation of Tuesday's discussion until their Nov. 12 session.