A Prattville veterinarian blames city planning department for building delays

Posted by: Bryan Henry - bio | email

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) -  For months veterinarian Dr. Amy Meyers barked up a storm to get a building permit for her new clinic in Prattville, and once the clinic was built, it took 3 months to get a certificate to let her move in.

"It was unorganized chaos. We would complete the tasks," said Meyers.

Apparently not according to the Prattville City Planning Department. It claimed Meyers simply didn't finish what's called a 'final punch list'; completing the landscaping, signage and perhaps the biggest job of all, providing a storm-water easement. Meyers says the process seemed to get more complicated, more bizarre by the day.

"I've always been raised that when there's a problem, you do something about it," Dr. Meyers said.

It started when Dr. Meyers borrowed $145,000 just to buy the lot before anything was built. She then started making plans to build her new clinic, but before any dirt got turned over, she had to get a building permit.

"The real problem is we never got in the beginning phases of the process a list of things to be done. They would shell out a couple of things. We would complete those tasks and say okay.. 3 weeks later we need to add a few more. We need this, we need that," Meyers alleges.

And there was the problem, according to Dr. Meyers, of the Planning Department giving her new location the wrong address. Meyers says Alabama Power gave her the correct address.

"We kept asking 'don't you have some sort of bulletin list that we can go by,' said Meyers.

Meantime, the interest accrued on her $145,000 loan. Meyers made the payments even though her new clinic was not opened much less built.

"They had us jump through hoops, the architect jumps through hoops, adding to my bottom line," Meyers said.

Then, she turned to city hall for help.

The exchange between Dr. Meyers and the mayor got testy over the course of 5 months. The emails between the two tell the story.

In one email Mayor Jim Byard suggested to Meyers that this was more of a 'do-it-yourself' project, local professionals like Meyers who act as their own contractor who have no experience, despite having good intentions. Meyers responded saying her own father, former Prattville City Councilman Bobby Carter, would 'slap the mayor in the face for suggesting that,' and Meyers added 'insulting us is only going to piss me off more and make this matter worse for all of you.'

"I was a little mad. Again, Jim knows my family. Jim knows we're a tight family," said Dr. Meyers.

For his part Mayor Byard declined to speak on the record saying talking about it publicly would be 'premature, inappropriate and in poor taste without the courtesy of speaking directly with her (Meyers) first.'

Today, Dr. Meyers' clinic is up and running and she estimates the delays from the Planning Department cost her $6,000 in interest on that $145,000 loan. The cat fight between the veterinarian and the city is over.. for now.

"I just wished the process hadn't been so rocky," said Dr. Meyers.

Mayor Byard and Dr. Meyers have a meeting on June 30th to talk about the issues. Meyers, meantime, says she has no regrets writing what she wrote in those emails to Mayor Byard.

©2009 WSFA. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.