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Dave’s Soda & Pet City drops bid for veterinary clinic in Agawam, for now


AGAWAM – Although Dave A. Ratner has dropped his bid to open a veterinary clinic in his store on Springfield Street, he said that he may reconsider in the future.

Ratner, the owner of Dave’s Soda & Pet City, told the City Council last week that the veterinarian slated for the clinic lost his financing. The Longmeadow man said he no longer wanted to pursue amending the zoning bylaw in order to open a clinic in his store at 151 Springfield St.

Ratner told councilors he had learned a few days earlier that the veterinarian was unable to go forward, and said he did not have time to withdraw the petition to amend the zoning bylaw.

He declined to name the veterinarian when asked after the meeting.

Ratner told a reporter he would not rule out revisiting the issue in the future, but said he did not have plans to do so anytime soon.

“Not in the near future,” he said.

Ratner said he has received many telephone calls and e-mails in support of his plan. The city’s only two veterinarians had opposed the plan, citing public health and the safety risks of putting a veterinary clinic inside a retail store.

The Planning Board voted on March 5 to send a negative recommendation to the City Council.

Ratner’s petition, which bore 16 residents’ signatures, asked to change the wording of a bylaw that allows animal hospitals in certain business districts to include all non-residential districts. It also sought to drop a requirement that calls for the clinic to be in a separate building.

Ratner said he had many customers who want a vet clinic at the store. He said the opposition from the Planning Board and the veterinarians had no bearing on his decision to withdraw.

“There is a market for it, with the MSPCA (Massachusetts Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) closing, and not all of our customers are from Agawam,” he said. “And the real fact of the matter was that as we refined our plans, the vet clinic would not be inside the store. It would be in the empty part of the store.”

Three people spoke out in opposition of the plan during the public hearing, including John E. Guntly, of Chicopee, a veterinarian from the Agawam Animal Hospital.

Resident Helen F. Chester, of Feeding Hills, said she opposed the petition because Ratner’s plans were too vague.

No one spoke to the council in favor of the petition, but some people sitting in the audience said they would welcome a clinic at Dave’s.

Katherine M. Ayers, of 298 North Westfield St., Feeding Hills, said she has two cats, and purchases supplies from Dave’s. She said she would possibly take her pets for veterinarian services.

“It would be a convenient space,” she said.

Albert P. Ricco, of 104 Mallard Circle, also supported the proposal.

“It’s convenient for pet owners,” he said. “It’s like one-stop shopping . … I didn’t see what the problem is.”

Dave Ratner featured in MassLive
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Posted in Articles, Pets on March 21, 2009 by Dave Ratner.

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