Left Hand Valley Courier - All Local, All The Time

By Jocelyn Rowley

County commissioners approve proposed animal clinic


At a public hearing on July 12, owners of the Left Hand Animal Hospital received conditional approval from the Boulder County Commissioners to relocate their five-year-old veterinary clinic to the former site of the Neighborhood Learning Center of Niwot, a move that will allow the growing practice to remain an active part of the community, according to co-owner Dr. Nancy Bureau.

“What I learned from this process is community voice matters,” she said. “Initially, the county told us our permit would be probably be declined. The reason they decided to grant it is because the new neighbors and clients and the citizens of Niwot said yes we want Left Hand Animal Hospital to be here in Niwot. So I’m super grateful to the people of Niwot and our clients and our new neighbors. They have been nothing but amazing with all of their help and advice.”

During the 25-minute proceeding, Commissioners Deb Gardner and Elise Jones (Cindy Domenico was absent) heard from County Planner Raini Ott, who recommended approval of the proposed clinic after a staff review found that it will actually result in a less intensive use than the daycare center. Staff planners also found that architect Sean McMurray’s proposed exterior renovations are in keeping with the historic character of the Old Town neighborhood.

The commissioners heard testimony from several Niwot residents, who chronicled the animal hospital’s deep engagement in both the town’s civic and commercial activities since it opened at 136 2nd Avenue in 2013.

“They’re not just a run of the mill business,” Chuck Klueber of the Niwot Business Association said. “We want Niwot to be known for a business like Dr. Nancy’s. To come, start-up, grow, and expand. Losing them would be a significant loss to Niwot, so I wholeheartedly support this.”

After less than two minutes of deliberation, Gardner and Jones both voted to allow Bureau and co-owner Dr. Katie Thomas to proceed with their plans to convert the two-story former daycare center into a 6,405-square foot animal hospital, including the construction of a 1,050-square foot vestibule on the west façade and the installation of 21 striped parking spaces.

“Thank you all for coming out and supporting your community and your fellow business owners,” Jones said after hearing the overwhelmingly supportive public testimony. “It’s always a happy moment when the community and the Land Use department all agree, and everything meets the code.”

With approval in hand from both the Commissioners and the County Planning Commission, which recommended approval of the proposed development at a hearing on June 20, plans can now proceed in earnest.

Property owners Alan and Kim Schwarz also attended the hearing, and are looking forward to setting a closing date for the sale of the property. Once that occurs, there remain a few hurdles before work can begin on the future home of the Left Hand Animal Hospital. First, Bureau and Thomas are required to obtain building and signage permits, and must submit a Development Agreement to the county. They also are required to submit a parking plan that complies with both Americans with Disabilities Act and Boulder County requirements. Once construction is complete, they are then required to revegetate any exposed soil on the one-third acre lot.

Construction is now expected to begin later this year. Left Hand Animal Hospital will continue to service clients and their pets at its current location until renovations are completed.


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