From doctor’s office to veterinarian: permit requested

An Easton veterinarian is proposing to open an office at 555 Danbury Road in space formerly used as a cosmetic surgery practice.

Lori B. Brault is seeking a special permit for the property to change the adaptive use from a medical space to a veterinary clinic. There would be no modifications to the building or the floor plan. The building is in an R1 residential district.

It’s an interesting question, why there is such a proliferation of dog kennels and veterinary clinics in Wilton, said Steve Glazer, professor of economics at Norwalk Community College. A drive down Route 7 shows plenty of them.

“I’m not sure it necessarily means that Wilton residents are more likely to be animal lovers than residents of other communities, as it could mean that the vets and kennels are paying lower rents in Wilton than they maybe would in other communities. I would think that with so many residential communities in the area that Wilton would not have a disproportionate number of animal owners compared to other communities,” Glazer said.

In a town of more than 18,000 people, there are approximately 1,060 dogs licensed in the community, according to records at the office of the town clerk. That makes one dog for every 18 people, but does not take into consideration other kinds of pets.

It could be that the vet business is a viable one in Wilton and attracts more of the same, Glazer said.

“Again, given the relative strength of the economy and the strong value of real estate in this area, vets and kennel owners see potential profits to be earned since their research should have borne out a high percentage of animal owners throughout Wilton and its neighboring towns,” Glazer said.

The Planning and Zoning Commission opened the application for the special permit on Feb. 12. There will be a public hearing.

One of the commissioners noted at the meeting that there does seem to be a preponderance of animal facilities, said Bob Nerney, the town’s planning director.

The Planning and Zoning Commission does not establish quotas for the types of businesses that operate in town, though. It can only weigh each application on the merits of the zoning questions involved, he said.

There would be no animal boarding at the facility, according to the application. It is anticipated that occasionally a dog or cat might stay overnight following a surgery or for an illness requiring ongoing therapy.

Brault said she has operated a mobile practice out of Easton for the past 10 years, and the number of hospitalized patients has not exceeded 15 in a given calendar year.

As no staff would remain at the site overnight, if an animal required close monitoring, she would either take it home with her or transfer it to one of the local specialty clinics for care.

Brault said she has entered into a contract to purchase the property from Grant Hill Properties LLC and NSHE Half Moon Lake LLC with a projected closing date of March 9, which is contingent upon zoning approval.

The Planning and Zoning Commission approved the original special permit for adaptive use of a residential property in 1986. Many houses on Route 7 are used for commercial properties under the adaptive use permit system.