Startown animal hospital to open

A Startown veterinary office is almost ready to open a little more than a year after Newton City Council approved to rezone "Highway Business" districts.

Dr. Matt Pennell plans to open Startown Veterinary Hospital in mid-May after renovations are complete on an existing building at 2421 N.C. 10 West, near the intersection of N.C. 10 and Startown Road.

"We are tying together loose ends," Pennell said, as construction crews worked on the building Tuesday morning.

Pennell, of Hickory, has been working as a veterinarian in the area for eight years. He plans to be the only doctor working in this clinic with assistance from his wife, Beth, as well as two other employees.

Pennell started renovating the former automobile sales building in November. The 2,400-square-foot building will hold a lobby waiting area, a treatment room, two exam rooms, a surgery room, a digital x-ray room, a recovery room, a cat room and an area for large dogs to be able to move around while staying at the animal hospital.

Pennell said Startown Veterinary Hospital will serve dogs, cats, reptiles and small mammals, such as rabbits. He is not planning to assist large animals, such as horses, at the time of opening.

Newton City Council unanimously approved to rezone the property after its April 20, 2010, meeting. During that meeting, City Planner Ben McCrary explained to council members that previously, animal hospitals were allowed in areas zoned as "General Business Districts."

Then-owner Dale Lafone requested the rezoning of the N.C. 10 West building, which was previously used as an automobile sales business, because Pennell wanted to open a veterinary hospital at the location.

McCrary told The O-N-E in April 2010 that City Council's decision to rezone the property didn't just affect this parcel, but all highway businesses. Other similar properties are located on West C Street near Southwest Boulevard, East D Street and U.S. 70.

City Council added supplemental regulations for animal hospitals located on highways when it approved the rezoning request:

โ€” All activities, with the exception of exercises yards, shall be conducted in an enclosed building.

โ€” Buildings housing animal hospitals or vet clinics shall be located no closer than 100 feet from an adjacent residential district.

โ€” Exercise and confinement yards shall not be closer than 200 feet from any dwelling unite on adjacent property.

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