The process that has been used by City representatives in the handling of this publicly owned land has been duplicitous and has prohibited the VBSPCA and others from pursuing this project on this land or any other publicly owned land. Any reader of this history could draw the conclusion that the City’s handling of this matter appears to have had as its objective the prevention of the Virginia Beach SPCA, and now its partners, of having a fair and equal opportunity to develop a
It is our position that the City Manager and City Council have an obligation to manage publicly owned property with transparency and fairness and to evaluate the use of this property on the merits of all interested parties. After all, the Virginia Beach SPCA and Evelyn’s Wildlife Refuge are
* 2007 The Virginia Beach SPCA, communicated to the City’s Planning department its recommendation for two concepts:
1. A comprehensive city-wide wildlife management plan
2. The creation of a
City staff agreed and said they would in touch with us to set up a meeting to discuss these ideas. We were never contacted although we brought it up from time to time.
*12/2009 Executive Director of the VBSPCA spoke with the City Manager reinforcing the need for a
*March 16, 2010. Meeting with Planning staff attended by a VBPSCA board member, VBSPCA wildlife specialist and the VBSPCA Executive Director. Various properties were reviewed with the City planner and a full discussion of ideas related to the
Therefore, the VBSPCA concluded that the City was not interested in using publicly owned land for a wildlife center.
*March 8, 2011, VBPSCA learned that Wildlife Response had been provided with the location of a property identified by the City as appropriate for a
*March 22, 2011 VBSPCA immediately requested that Wildlife Response’s Conditional Use Permit (CUP) application be deferred until we had the opportunity to talk with our colleagues in the area and to review this proposal. We were dismayed that we and others had not been afforded the opportunity to discuss and compete for this project, particularly when we had expressed our interest to the City over many years.
*March and April , 2011 We held a series of meetings with various rehabilitators, members of Evelyn’s Wildlife Refuge and other interested parties to ascertain their input into the handling of this situation, to review the proposal from Wildlife Response, and to explore our mutual interests going forward. It became very clear that the vast majority of these attendees did not support the WRI proposal; felt that it had a limited chance of success and that it relied heavily on the resources and support of those who had not been included in the planning process. As a consequence of these meetings, we all agreed to pull together and create a formal organization, the Wildlife Rehabilitation and Education Network (WREN) as we had been working in an informal relationship for years.
*April 12, 2011 The invitation by the City staff to a joint meeting with Wildlife Response on the 12th suggested that the following would happen:
“The agenda for the meeting will be twofold: to discuss (1) current or tentative proposals for a wildlife rehab center that all parties may have, and (2) potential for pursuing a shared wildlife rehab center. It is hoped that this will be a constructive meeting and point to some win-win solutions. Please feel free to bring along any handouts that you would like to share. We also will have the capability to use the computer and projector for any PowerPoint slides that you may wish to bring or email in advance to help illustrate your points”
Regrettably, we were not permitted by Wildlife Response to discuss their proposal, they indicated it was not relevant and it was made very clear that a joint proposal or sharing of the center was not acceptable to Wildlife Response. On that basis, our joint partnership asked if we might present a separate proposal for the publicly owned property and we were advised by City staff, with the Planning department Director and Deputy City Manager present, that we could proceed with our proposal on this property at 3592 Indian River Road.
Additional joint meetings were held with the community’s stakeholders and it was agreed to move forward in a partnership to be named the Hampton Roads Wildlife Rehabilitation and Education Network (WREN) and to develop a proposal for a jointly operated
*April 19, 2011 Meeting with two City planning staff who had been managing this land and the existing CUP application. We discussed this history and the concepts in full and we were provided with a CUP application form for the Indian River Road property and the City’s schedule for hearings. We were also told that we would receive additional property addresses to review by the early part of the next week. Once again, we have never received any information about any other properties available for the use as a
*April 19, 2011 We were informed that the City Attorney said there could not be a second application, notwithstanding this offer on two occasions by two experienced planning staff. We emailed the parties on 4/20 and expressed our frustration and confusion around this latest obstacle.
*April 26, 2011 A VBPSCA Board member, Cheryl Papineau, who is chairing this committee, spoke with one of the Planning staff members in the early part of the week inasmuch as we had not received any response to our email of 4/20. Ms. Papineau was assured that these two planners were having a meeting with the City Attorney that very day, April 27, and the City planners would be back in contact with us with a clarification.
Consistent with the earlier history, there has never been a follow-up phone call or email to Ms. Papineau.
This chronology is replete with occasions when the Virginia Beach SPCA expressed to the designated City staff and the City manager an interest in utilizing publicly owned property for the development of a
Neither the City nor Wildlife Response advised known interested parties and stakeholders at any time that they were working together on a wildlife center. Wildlife Response was fully aware that the VBPSCA had discussed a wildlife center for years and they also kept their efforts a secret from the vast majority of the wildlife rehabilitation community which they will have to depend on if they actually open and try to run a Center. The City knew expressly that we were interested in pursuing City owned property for a wildlife center and failed to provide the information it promised nor did they tell us others were already pursuing such a project. These choices to conceal this information has created the conflict today.