Vet Mitchell seeks to turn vacant animal hospital into pet-friendly apartments

But Jason Heezen hopes to change that by turning a former veterinary clinic on the south side of Mitchell into an apartment complex.

As a longtime local vet who has run Safe Haven Small Animal Hospital for more than a decade, Heezen knows how limited pet accommodation options are in Mitchell. That’s what sparked the vet’s idea to transform the vacant Safe Haven Animal Hospital into a quadruple apartment specifically designed to accommodate pets.

“I know there is a need for more housing in Mitchell. During my time as a vet, I came across the need for special housing that allows pets, ”Heezen said at the recent Town Hall Planning and Zoning Commission meeting. . “We could always use more animal-friendly housing.”

The former Safe Haven Small Animal Hospital, located at 201 E. Norway Ave., sat vacant for two years following Heezen’s decision to close the facility due to his semi-retirement. Rather than leaving the building empty, Heezen seeks to use it to address what he says is a housing need in the community.

The building layout includes four two-bedroom apartments with one bathroom in each unit. Another part of Heezen’s plan is to create an outdoor pet area on the green space next to the building. Additionally, the entire apartment complex would be fitted with epoxy textured flooring, which Heezen says is an ideal surface for pets. The existing parking lot in front of the building has eight parking spaces, Heezen noted.

How difficult is it for renters to find pet friendly apartments in Mitchell? Mitchell’s online pet-friendly apartment listings on Friday showed just four available properties in the city on two leading apartment websites.

Hudson Buckingham can attest to the difficulty of finding an apartment that accepts pets. After all, the lack of pet-friendly apartments in Mitchell played a role in Buckingham’s decision to rent a house.

“It’s really hard to find apartments that accept pets. It is even difficult to find houses that accept dogs. And those who want an arm and a leg for it, ”Buckingham said.

Although Buckingham has been fortunate to find a home that accepts pets, he knows how difficult it can be. That’s why he said he liked the idea of ​​Heezen.

For the female Buckingham German Shepherd, he said raising her in an area where she could be with other dogs and animals would have had a positive impact on her training.

“I feel like if my dog ​​grew up in a pet friendly building she would be a lot more advanced in her training than she is,” Buckingham said.

For the quadriplex plan to come to fruition, Heezen needs to change the building zoning from its current Transportation, Warehouse and Commercial (TWC) district to a high-density residential area called R4. At the Mitchell Planning and Zoning Commission meeting on May 24, the rezoning request was unanimously approved by council. But concerns about ad hoc zoning were also addressed.

Mitchell City Council will have the final say in approving the rezoning request at the next meeting on June 7 to bring the apartment complex to fruition.

“I think it’s a really good place for that with Dakota Wesleyan University nearby and the trailer park across the street,” Heezen said.

While the building proposed to become the quadruplex is currently adjacent to two TWC-zoned properties, Planning Commission Chairman Jay Larson said the property directly across the street – which is a trailer park – is zoned in an R4 neighborhood, as Heezen is looking for. to rezone his property in.

“Usually if there’s a suitable area right across the street that’s OK,” Larson said.

Larson supported the rezoning plan and request, calling the pet-friendly quadruplex a “real need” in the community. Commission member Jon Osterloo, who owns rental properties in the city, also echoed the need for housing.

“I know they’re really limited,” Osterloo said of places that allow pets, before bringing a motion to approve the rezoning request.


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About Hector Hedgepeth

Hector Hedgepeth

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