Legal battles resume against SWVA Wildlife Center in Roanoke

Neighbors resume legal suit over zoning-related issues

ROANOKE, Va. – A dispute between neighbors and a local wildlife center is far from settled.

Negotiations between the Southwest Virginia Wildlife Center and its two neighbors broke down over the course of weekslong court remediation. Now, SWVA Wildlife Center received notification that pending lawsuits have resumed, forcing the nonprofit to divert spending from animals to legal fees.

Hundreds of injured animals come to the Southwest Virginia Wildlife Center every year. Current patients include two fox kits, a nest of baby Carolina wrens, a great horned owl, gray squirrels and many more.

Although the center sits at the back of a quiet road in Roanoke, two of its newest neighbors -- Stan and Jane Seymour and Adrian Maver and spouse Blaine Creasy -- have raised concerns for months over proposed rehabilitative animal enclosures on the property along with road traffic and other zoning issues.

“Basically, I feel like they want us gone, and it's just not practical for us to move. That would be extremely expensive and also exhausting,” said Executive Director Sabrina Garvin. 

The lengthy legal battle is also costly. On top of the roughly $50,000 already spent on attorneys' fees, Garvin said they'll be required to put down another $10,000 for defense attorneys now that the suit has resumed.

“So that is more money that takes away from the care of our animals here, and our busy season is getting ready to pick up right now, where we need food and supplies, and so having to divert money for that cause hurts the center financially,” Garvin said.

The suit is bad news, hitting just before the center's big fundraiser gala this weekend in Roanoke. While Garvin has been busy preparing, she said community support has kept her motivated to do what she loves: care for the animals.

“We do this to help the environment, the community. Even the people that are suing us, we are even helping them, and they don't realize it,” Garvin said.

Tickets are still available for the “A Night Owl on the Town” gala at the Shenandoah Club. Tickets are $75 a person.

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