MISSION VIEJO : City to Lease Land for Veterinary Group

The city will lease land for an after-hours veterinary clinic despite opposition from several residents who called the transaction "a sweetheart deal."

The proposal from the South Orange County Emergency Veterinary Group to build the clinic next to the city animal shelter and rent the land for $1,000 a month disturbed a handful of residents, prompting them to distribute anti-clinic flyers at local mini-malls last weekend.

Treatment for strays at the clinic would be deducted from rent charges, which resident Jeannine Newton said meant the veterinarians might wind up "getting free rent."

But council members pointed to a real estate appraisal that set rent for the proposed clinic at $1,000 per month and criticized the residents' flyer for allegedly containing misinformation.

"I'm shocked," Mayor Susan Withrow said. "I don't know how anyone could be so misinformed. (The city) paid for an appraisal that set the rent" for the veterinary clinic.

The lease contract was approved 4 to 1. Councilman William S. Craycraft voted against the agreement but made no specific comment about his vote.

The clinic would rent about 10,000 square feet, including a parking lot, next to the shelter. City officials said the building is expected to be about 4,000 square feet and cost the veterinarian group about $600,000.

The city would take over the building once the lease expires. Rent increases would be tied to the Consumer Price Index.

Primarily serving about 40 South County veterinarians and their clients, the South County Emergency Veterinary Group is currently operating from offices in San Juan Capistrano.

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