Vets mark territory

Hackles raised by competition

Torn between citizen complaints

causing “negative vibes” and the prospect

of having an old dilapidated building

upgraded by a new business, the Pinedale

Town Council voted to allow a veterinarian

to have a conditional use permit for an animal

clinic at 618 W. Pine St. between Lincoln and


The request was granted despite repeated

protests from an established veterinarian located

less than a block away during the Pinedale

Town Council’s July 8 meeting. Mayor

Matt Murdock and council members Judi

Boyce, John Paravicini, Tyler Swafford and

Dean Loftus were in attendance.

Dr. Rex Rammel requested a conditional

use permit allowing his animal clinic at the

formerly vacant building. He agreed to the

planning and zoning commission’s conditions

to maintain dog kennels only inside the facility

to reduce noise and to limit loading and unloading

in the alley to 10 minutes to reduce


Dr. Brent Dean, who has the Animal Care

Clinic across the alley on South Madison,

wrote a letter of protest saying the alley was already

congested and adding another vet would

cause problems.

Murdock said both businesses could be respectful

and limit congestion in the alley.

Rammel said in the past two weeks he has

already started demolition so another building

for large animals could be installed. He took

a verbal stab at Dean, saying the established

vet was exaggerating the amount of trailer traffic

because he has never seen more than two

trailers at any time in the past two weeks. “He

doesn’t specialize in horses,” Rammel said.

Murdock immediately toned down the rhetoric,

saying, “Letting the conversation denigrate

into insults would not be useful.”

He added time limits on loading and unloading,

as well as complaints about noisy animals,

could be monitored and violators cited by the

town’s enforcement staff.

Loftus, who uses the Mason law firm building

near the alley, said he has seen on several

occasions as many as five trailers jockeying for


A visibly upset Swafford also took offense

at Rammel’s attacks. He said Rammel was presumptuous

when he posted signs prior to having

a permit and again by starting demolition

before receiving the conditional use permit.

Rammel defended his actions, saying he has

not invested a lot in the work done to date and

he placed the property under contract based on

the outcome of the permit application.

Forest Wakefield, owner of rental units on

South Lincoln, protested the use, saying the

noise of large animals would impact his rentals.

He added there are concerns with the sewer


Josh Wilson, town water and wastewater supervisor,

said he evaluated the sewer and found

additional lines had been run in recent years.

Hayley Ruland, director of engineering and

zoning, said that in the application process,

concerns emerged about utility easements.

Wakefield said he felt Rammel was getting

preferential treatment by not being required

to have parking where Dean was required to

make additional parking.

Murdock said that was a requirement when

Dean moved to his location and later changed

by ordinance and Rammel no longer needed

to comply.

Boyce said she was concerned about safety

at festivals at the American Legion Park across

the street. The area is already congested and

restricted views could create a hazard for pedestrians.

Boyce said she was torn because she

didn’t want to oppose new businesses but the

public seemed very contentious.

She addressed Rammel, saying he had repeatedly

put the cart before the horse in installing

signs without a permit. Once notified he

needed a permit, instead of complying he put

an even larger sign in the back of a truck and

parked on Pine Street, obstructing views and

creating a safety hazard.

Swafford agreed, saying, “Your little shot

at Dr. Dean was tasteless.”

Rammel defended his remarks, explaining

his history of having repeatedly offered Dean

to buy his business but they were unable to

settle on a price. “You’ve been wanting to sell

the business for years,” Rammel said to Dean.

He added that Dean doesn’t want competition.

“To make the issue about congestion

is unfair to me,” Rammel said. “Parking is a

big issue and I can be respectful. I doubt we’re

going to be close friends.”

Dean clarified he has wanted to find a partner

so he could work less hours. He accused

Rammel of “threatening to put me out of business”

when the sale did not go through.

Wakefield argued the change in uses could

impact the sale of his property, throwing out

the names of other investors in the vicinity unable

to sell properties.

“You’re giving him extra and taking it out

on me,” Wakefield said. “Why is he so special

he deserves that?”

Boyce said she had attended the planning

and zoning meetings and that board approved

the conditional use permit, 4-1, with Lora Hittle

being the dissenting vote. Boyce said she is

excited about the planned upgrades to the facade

and proposed improvements to the longempty

building, but worries Rammel might

not be a good neighbor.

Rammel said he already agreed to inside

kennels, unlike Dean who has barking dogs

located in outside kennels creating constant


As for Wakefield’s rentals, he said fixing

up the former meat locker should improve everyone’s

property values.

Dean said he has had other vets move into

the community and maintained positive relationships

as colleagues sharing records and

referrals. “It’s hard to swallow when someone

threatens to put you out of business,” Dean


“My job as mayor can not be about personalities.

We are not the litmus test of his personality,”

Murdock said.

He added, once granted the conditional use

permit transfers with the property and can be

sold for the next user and town ordinances on

parking limits, noise and animals in the community

will be enforced.

He threw it out to the council, “We can

approve, disprove, add conditions or take no

action, which is the same as denying.”

Following a long stare with no one taking

actions, Rammel said Pinedale represents the

weaknesses in the American system. He said

he has spent weeks negotiating and getting the

property under contract. He said he lived in

Jackson an entire year and moved out because

the business climate was so uncomfortable

and the town made him beg for things that he

should have been free to do as an American


“It’s an eyesore nobody else wants. I’ve

met all the conditions. There’s not one illegal

thing I’m proposing,” Rammel argued.

Loftus said, based on Rammel meeting all

the criteria, he made a motion to accept the

conditional use permit.

Boyce seconded the motion, agreeing he

had met the criteria. She suggested an additional

condition that a separate gate system be

added so a bull or large animal couldn’t escape

during the unloading process, possibly entering

the adjacent park and causing injuries.

The conditional use permit passed with

three ayes from Loftus, Murdock and Boyce,

one nay from Swafford and Paravicini abstaining.

Following the meeting, Paravicini said he

has been longtime friends with Dean and did

not want that to be a reason for appeal or litigation

if he voted.


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