Virginia Beach sanctuary for birds, reptiles, mammals given more time to develop on city land

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Virginia Beach wildlife sanctuary
The Wildlife Response Inc. center’s front gate at 3592 Indian River Road. (Justin Belichis)

VIRGINIA BEACH — Local animal protection organization Wildlife Response Inc. will get to keep 51 acres of city-owned property at 3592 Indian River Road.

City council voted to modify its lease agreement with the organization in a unanimous vote at its formal session Tuesday.

When the city originally agreed to lease its land to Wildlife Response Inc. for 40 years in 2012, the organization was required to build enclosures, towers and structures to rehabilitate injured birds, reptiles and mammals. It was also required to construct a caretakers residence, a 4,500-square-foot medical treatment center and a 2,400-square-foot administrative and educational facility on the property on a multi-phase timeline.

Wildlife Response Inc. didn’t meat the deadlines, according to a Feb. 21 email from Barry Frankenfield, director of planning and community development, to city manager Dave Hansen.

“Due to unforeseen events, including the presence of endangered bats, vandalism and flooding, in addition to fundraising challenges, Wildlife Response [Inc.] has been unable to complete the phases as originally contemplated,”  Frankenfield wrote.

Now, the organization has a new timeline to satisfy in its modified agreement with the city, which is based on its existing fundraising commitments.

According to the email, Frankenfield said the organization has until Feb. 28, 2018 to clean up the site, restore the caretaker’s residence, install bird cages and an aquatic bird center.

A medical treatment facility must be completed, solar and water collection platforms must be installed and a parking lot must be built by March 31, 2019. By Dec. 31, 2019 an administrative facility needs to be completed. The original timeline scheduled both buildings to be constructed by August 2016.

“This request extends several internal deadlines in order to accommodate project delays that have been outside of WRI’s control,” Wildlife Response Inc.’s public relations director Emily Cass said. “In spite of these delays, WRI has made substantial progress on the wildlife center and we have been in constant contact with the city every step of the way.”

Wildlife Response Inc. is an organization comprised of volunteers who care for orphaned, injured and displaced native wildlife, according to its website.

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