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Zoning amendment allows veterinary clinics in some commercial districts

By Bill ShortFlag City Logo

The Millington Board of Mayor and Aldermen has unanimously passed an ordinance on final reading that allows “small-animal” veterinary clinics in some commercial zoning districts.
Board members took the action during their Nov. 10 regular monthly meeting on a motion offered by Alderman Mike Caruthers and seconded by Alderman Bethany Huffman.
During the Public Comments portion of the board’s Oct. 13 meeting, Dr. Kim Garner said she is the owner of Big Creek Animal Hospital at 6543 Navy Road, which is outside the city limits.
She noted that the office of Dr. John C. Labarreare at 4785 Cuba-Millington Road has “become available for purchase” because he is retiring.
Garner said she was originally informed that it would be “suitable” for use as a veterinarian hospital. But after “further research” into the Zoning Ordinance, she learned that veterinary clinics were only allowed in Millington’s Agricultural zone on appeal.
Garner noted that she pays the state of Tennessee a $400 “professional” tax each year just to practice as a veterinarian.
“So, I am considered a professional,” she said. “And I would like to be able to move my existing business into Millington and become a taxpayer here in the city.”
In response to Garner’s request, board members asked the city’s planning staff to prepare an amendment to the Zoning Ordinance that allows small-animal veterinary clinics to be located in commercial zoning districts.
City Engineer Darek Baskin said the ordinance could be changed so veterinarians are included in “professional services.”
Charles Goforth, the consultant/planner for the city, said the problem was “unique” to Millington, because most of Shelby County’s other municipalities allow veterinary clinics in commercial zones. So, he suggested making them a “permitted use” within those.
When Huffman asked how the other veterinarians in the city were able to occupy commercial space, Mayor Terry Jones said they were “grandfathered” in.
Baskin said one clinic was constructed in the 1940s or ‘50s and another one in the ‘70s.
“But the uses got in there prior to the current Zoning Ordinance going into effect,” he noted. “If there’s no change of use or occupancy, then they’re allowed to continue that.”
The ordinance was passed on first reading at the board’s Oct. 27 special called meeting.
It amends Chapter 7 of the Zoning Ordinance to add a small-animal veterinary hospital or clinic as one of the “uses permitted” in the General Commercial and Planned Commercial districts.
It states that such an establishment can include “accessory boarding facilities” if they are located inside the building.
Caruthers noted that the Millington Municipal Planning Commission unanimously approved the changes at its Oct. 20 meeting.
“We think it’s a great idea,” he said. “I think the city was just remiss in not having this in our ordinances.”
“We didn’t know we needed it,” Alderman Thomas McGhee acknowledged. “Now, we know.”

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