SWCC supporters bring petition signatures to county

- Over 190,000 signatures supporting the Southwest Conservation Center were presented to Maricopa County leaders.

It's a place in the north county that treats, releases, and houses wild animals from the desert. Supporters want the county to give the center a special use permit to operate.

The center has been in the news since a neighbor to the center filed a lawsuit against it. They were upset with the noise caused at night by the howling coyotes and Mexican gray wolves.

While Mocassin the Owl and Roger the Skunk waited outside, supporters of the SWCC wheeled in boxes of signatures supporting the center.

"I was very grateful the board allowed us to speak and hope they will consider our application so we can continue our operations and be there for the community, and the state, and the nation," said Linda Searles.

The center faces a lawsuit from Dr. Seth Gortler, he claims there is excessive howling by the coyotes and wolves, and too much dust on the road leading to the facility. Supporters of the center reject that claim.

"Somebody cannot move in next to a railroad track and say we want the railroad to move somewhere else because we don't like the noise," said Richelle Fatheree.

A lawyer for Gortler says the attempt to get a special use permit has little to do with his lawsuit. Dr. Gortler is fine with the center staying open; he just wants the noise and dust reduced.

Gortler's lawsuit is about the county's noise ordinance, not shutting down the center. The issue of the special use permit for the center will be considered by Maricopa County Planning and Zoning, then the Board of Supervisors.

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