Reptile rescuer looking for a new place to live

Published: Tuesday, Aug. 30 2011 1:19 a.m. MDT

James Dix, who runs the nonprofit organization Reptile Rescue, is having to leave his home to make way for the Mountain View Corridor. With more than 400 animals as roommates, finding a new place to live hasn't been easy.

Mike Terry, Deseret News

WEST VALLEY CITY — Packing up and moving isn't an easy task for James Dix.

He has roommates to think about — more than 400 of them.

Dix, who runs the nonprofit organization Reptile Rescue, is having to leave his home to make way for the Mountain View Corridor. Most of his neighbors' homes already have been torn down.

"It's not like you can just pack your stuff up in a box and move in 24 hours," Dix said. "We'd have fatalities on a lot of animals."

Kennecott has agreed to donate 10 acres of property in West Valley City to allow Dix to build a new sanctuary. But he needs permission from the city to move there.

Dix calls the decision "simple" and a "no-brainer."

The problem, city officials say, is with zoning. Currently, there are no laws on the books that deal with having so many animals. They say Dix's home has gone from being an animal rescue to a permanent shelter.

"The issue, of course, is the number of animals," said Paul Isaac, assistant city manager, "and we've sort of frankly been taken aback by the number of animals he has."

Dix met Monday with city and Utah Department of Transportation officials to discuss his options. One proposal would allow Dix to stay at the city's vacant animal shelter up to 90 days.

In the meantime, city officials say they will be working to expedite Dix's application for a conditional-use permit. All parties say they hope to have the issue resolved in the next few weeks.

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