The owner of the Animal Wellness Center on Crozet Avenue, Dr. Hillary Cook, described her vision for expanding the business to the Crozet Community Advisory Committee at its September 10 meeting. Dr. Cook will be requesting a special use permit from the county to be able to add more parking spaces and a second building to accommodate her growing practice.
“I’ve been a resident of Free Union since 2006 and the owner of the Animal Wellness Center since 2011,” said Cook. “Since then I’ve been getting busier and busier with the practice, particularly in the holistic types of medicine that I provide, including acupuncture and chiropractic rehabilitation, in addition to regular medicine and surgery. The specialty types of services require extra space so that’s what I’m trying to do here—make more space to include more doctors and staff to provide the services that seem to be needed. In addition, I’m interested in boarding animals and possibly providing some pet retail in those spaces as well.”
The Center has 12 to 15 employees working there at one time, and it currently has parking spaces for only a few more cars than that. Many clients park in the grassy area to the left of the driveway when the regular parking area is full. An application is pending with the county because veterinary use requires a special use permit to be approved by the Board of Supervisors. The application is to amend an existing permit that was approved in 2009 for veterinary use of the property. No change in zoning is proposed on the 3.4-acre parcel.
Zoning for this parcel is designated as Downtown Crozet District (mixed use and office space) for about two-thirds of the property nearest Crozet Avenue, and Greenspace in the back one-third of property. A floodplain in the back limits the buildable area to only the front two-thirds. There is also a wide drainage easement that runs across the property into a manmade wetlands area to the south, which further constrains the developable area on the lot. Dr. Cook, who currently rents the property from the homeowner directly to the north, would like to buy the property as part of this project.
Downtown Crozet District zoning is intended to promote a style of development where buildings are placed close to the road, similar to the Blue Goose and Library area, to enhance the “small town feel” of the streetscape. The ordinance requires that buildings be built close to the front property line, with a maximum setback of 10 feet from the front lot line, or 20 feet if the board allows it. There’s also a proposed pedestrian connection between the two buildings.
At the September 10 meeting, CCAC member Joe Fore asked whether “pet retail” meant selling pets or something else. “No selling of pets,” said Cook, “just pet food and treats and collars and things of that nature. We don’t seem to have anything like that in the area, and it seems to be something people are often asking about.” The new building is planned for two stories as that is the requirement for Downtown Crozet District zoning. Allie Pesch commented that it’s great to see a local business do well and try to expand in downtown Crozet.
“When I started [the business], I was terrified that it wouldn’t work, but now we’ve outgrown our space,” said Cook after the meeting. “With the new building we’ll have so many possibilities. I’m especially excited for the exotics part of the practice, which is really taking off right now; it’s unique. We can treat parrots, lizards, guinea pigs, rabbits, snakes … we have four Galapagos tortoises in there right now!”
To read more about Animal Wellness Center, visit crozetanimalwellnesscenter.com.