Statement on Walk on the Wild Side

Release date: 07/27/2017
Sponsored by: Department of Land Use and Transportation, Planning and Development Services Division

Washington County is continuing to explore all options regarding potential land use and building code violations in connection with Walk on the Wild Side, an organization housing exotic animals at 29875 NW Victory Lane Road.

Starting in March 2015, Washington County Department of Land Use & Transportation (LUT) Current Planning staff has repeatedly told Walk on the Wild Side representatives that the organization could not locate at the Victory Lane site, as the property is in the Exclusive Farm District, which is designed to maintain and preserve agricultural lands for farm use.

Under state law, "farm use" means using the land for the primary purpose of obtaining a profit by raising, harvesting and selling crops or the feeding, breeding, management and sale of livestock, poultry, etc. This was confirmed by both the state Department of Agriculture and the state Department of Land Conservation and Development.

In addition, due to the quality of soil at the Victory Lane facility, the site has been designated by the state Department of Agriculture as high-value farmland, which prohibits any non-farm activity. In order for Walk on the Wild Side to locate at the Victory Lane Road site, it would require changes in state law.

A summary of LUT communication with Walk on the Wild Side is as follows:

  • March 18, 2016 - Washington County Counsel letter advising WWS that it could not locate on the Victory Lane property. "…this office intends to defend the integrity of state and local land use regulations, as well as the safety of the general public, by availing itself of all legal remedies. This may include, but is not limited to, a temporary or permanent injunction, declaratory relief, or code enforcement action."
  • April 27, 2016 - Initial Cease & Desist letter from LUT "Please be advised that this type of work must cease and desist immediately."
  • May 25, 2016 - Formal request for a site inspection to verify the existence of any code violations."… County records indicate that no permits have been obtained for building on the property. This activity may be in violation of the Community Development Code, the Building Code, and State regulations.This letter serves as a formal request for a site inspection to verify the existence of any code violations."
  • Feb. 7, 2017 - Animals Allegedly Housed on Property letter. "We recently received a complaint that exotic animals have been moved to the site and are being housed on the property. This type of activity must cease and desist immediately. Land Use approval has not been obtained to commence business of any nature at this location."
  • June 23, 2017 - Final Notice letter."This is your final notice to contact Washington County to address the above issues. Any subsequent notification will reflect a Notice of Civil Violation, which requires your appearance in court and entails a minimum penalty of $750 per day up to potential maximum penalty of $5,000.00 per day."

  • Aug. 18, 2017 - Two notices of Civil Violation (Washington County Code Sections 201-1,207-5, 215, 340-1 and 340-7.1) for "feeding, breeding and management of exotic animals along with sales of the products of exotic animals on farm-zoned property without a permit" were sent via certified mail to the owners of Walk on the Wild Side. The violations carry a potential penalty of $750-$5,000.

LUT has heard from community members who have safety concerns. We appreciate their concerns and continue to work within the scope of the Washington County Community Development Code and state statutes governing land use, to achieve a resolution to this issue as soon as possible.

Media Contact:

Melissa De Lyser, Communications Coordinator