RACINE COUNTY — Two Racine veterinarians who had hoped to build a new animal hospital along Highway 20 in Yorkville have run into a nearly insurmountable roadblock with the state and now intend to open a new clinic in the greater Racine area instead.
Dr. Melissa Gallick and Dr. Morgan McCoy of Belle City Veterinary Hospital had an accepted offer to purchase a 7.4-acre property at 15125 Washington Ave. in the Town of Yorkville. They had planned to build a new animal hospital there, about 1 mile west of Interstate 94, with a total investment of about $1.6 million.
Gallick and Morgan were surprised on Jan. 8 when they ran into stiff resistance from neighbors who complained they would hear car doors closing, claimed the clinic would cause light pollution, that it would remove the area’s residential atmosphere and even fuel the opioid epidemic.
Consequently, the Yorkville Plan Commission and Town Board both denied the veterinarians a conditional-use permit to open an animal hospital — but later agreed to allow them a second chance to make their case. That meeting, which was scheduled for Monday, is now unnecessary.
Gallick and McCoy discovered that in the 1960s, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation put a restrictive deed on the property they sought, and perhaps others in that area, precluding any use other than a single-family home there.
“Nobody knew about this,” Gallick said.
The women could have gone through a long, expensive process of trying to get the DOT to remove the restriction but had little to no hope of succeeding, Gallick said. They decided to let go of their chosen property in Yorkville.
“That was crushing,” McCoy said. “We thought we had it.”
Starting new clinic
What hasn’t changed is that McCoy and Gallick still want to start their own veterinary practice, which they’ve named Magnolia Springs Veterinary Center. They have a new location in mind in the greater Racine area, and Gallick said she hopes they can open their new practice in four to five weeks.
The women want the freedom to practice “integrative medicine” that combines Eastern and Western techniques. McCoy practices veterinary spinal manipulation that would be called chiropractic when used on people.
Wherever Gallick and McCoy open Magnolia Springs, it will be a temporary home for their clinic, both veterinarians said. They are looking for a property in the area where they can build the type of clinic they’d planned to build in Yorkville.
There, Gallick and McCoy had intended to build a 3,500- to 4,500-square-foot, residential-style building with separate entrances and waiting areas for dogs and cats.
“We’re trying to make this a fear-free clinic, which is a new direction,” McCoy said previously. For example, cages for hospitalized pets would be adjacent to windows, giving them an outside view.
And they want to offer an outdoor space to clients for situations such as euthanasia, difficult conversations or if the pet is terrified inside a clinic.
Gallick said as soon as they have a property they will move forward with that plan, and she expects them to open their new, permanent animal hospital about 12 to 18 months after buying a property.