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Soarin’ Hawk Raptor Rehabilitation Center receives Allen County Board of Zoning Appeals approval of zoning variances for proposed new site near Huntertown north of Fort Wayne

Soarin' Hawk Raptor Rehabilitation Center received approval of three zoning variances the nonprofit sought Wednesday for its proposed new raptor rehab center, which would be built on farmland north of Huntertown. The group tries to help injured and orphaned birds recover and return to the wild. (News-Sentinel.com file photo)

Soarin’ Hawk Raptor Rehabilitation Center received approval Wednesday of three variances it needed for construction of its proposed new raptor rehab center north of Huntertown, group Vice President Mike Dobbs said today.

The Allen County Board of Zoning Appeals approved the variances during its meeting at Citizens Square.

Soarin’ Hawk requested the variances for 8 acres of farmland it tentatively has agreed to purchase east of Old Lima Road near McComb Road, Dobbs said previously.

The property will remain zoned for agricultural use, but the variances will allow Soarin’ Hawk to operate there and to construct a gravel drive and parking area.

The local nonprofit, which relies almost completely on volunteers, tries to help injured or orphaned birds of prey recover and return to the wild. The group has been operating for the past few years at what was meant to be a temporary location, and it also has outgrown those facilities.

The new raptor rehab center will be a $310,000 project that includes a new main building with an area for birds recovering from surgery, an area to prepare food for birds, a restroom and small office. Outdoor construction will include exhibit-style enclosures for birds in recovery care and those that can’t be returned to the wild but can be used to educate people about raptors.

Soarin’ Hawk also will build a tunnel-like exercise aviary, where volunteers will help birds rebuild their wing strength by allowing them to fly.

A large portion of the property lies in a floodplain, so that land will be converted to native prairie wildflowers and grasses, Dobbs said earlier.

The next step for Soarin’ Hawk will be securing easements from neighboring property owners to run a water line to the raptor rehab center site, Dobbs said today.

If that is successful, Soarin’ Hawk will be able to close on the purchase of the property, he said.

The group hopes to have a groundbreaking celebration in late July, Dobbs said.

Soarin’ Hawk also will have to develop detailed drawings for the site plan and file for building permits needed to start work, he said. The group hopes earthwork and installation of utilities can be completed this winter so construction of the building and bird facilities can begin in the spring.

LEARN MORE

For more about Soarin’ Hawk Raptor Rehabilitation Center and its plans for a new location, go to https://www.soarinhawk.org.

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