Selecting a site for your sanctuary can be more dif cult than you might think. You must consider, among other factors, zoning, public access, and the availability of resources and services.
Your Big-Picture Plan
Before choosing a site, know your plan. What is the overall strategy of your organization? Are you focusing on education, or is rescue the most important aspect of your work?
A site close to an urban area can enable extensive education and outreach, but higher property and operating costs, as well as zoning restrictions, may limit the number of animals you can shelter. The farther from farming communities you are, the more expensive farm-related goods and services will be. Obtaining feed and bedding for a shelter in a non-farming area may cost more than double what it would in a farm-heavy region.
We are near lots of farmers with plenty farm-related goods and services 20 minutes away. I doubt if there is any limit on the animals. There are so few restrictions out here.
Additionally, you must consider the direction that local officials plan to take with available land; you don’t want to end up needing to move your sanctuary to accommodate a strip mall.
We are adjacent to a neighborhood that has lots only sold to residents. Chances of any kind of strip mine or industrial stuff happening out here are so slim.
With a rural site, your shelter will have access to cheaper feed, more acreage, and more extensive vet services for the species you will be sheltering, but it will be less accessible to the public.
We are 1 hour from Fayetteville, 1 hour from Eureka Springs, 20 minutes from Huntsville. Roads are good.
Before acquiring land, make sure it is appropriately zoned for the type and number of animals you plan to shelter. Some areas prohibit or restrict certain species. For instance, in many places, it is legal to keep hens but not roosters.
Zoning also pertains to structures. Have a plan for the buildings you think you will need — then seek an area zoned to allow more structures than that, in case you grow. To ensure you get the appropriate permits, decide how many barns you will have and whether there will be residential housing, an education center, guest facilities, and/or parking areas. Again, the closer you are to an urban area, the more difficult it is to get operating and building permits.
Because there is a limit of one house per 5 acres (crazy!), you can build one more house. but by somehow purchasing about 1/4 acre, you could build another house. Building codes are minimal.
There are places that can be developed for parking areas. The retreat center has 6 bedrooms including the apartment. Plenty of space for an education center to be built.
You should also find out whether the burial of animals is allowed on the property. If you can’t bury onsite, you will have to pay for rendering or cremation, the latter of which can be quite costly.
You can bury animals on the property and have any kind of animal.
Water Supply. Make sure the property has wells that can handle the number of animals, residential houses, etc. you will need. Having a bad well or scant access to water can make the property worthless as a sanctuary. In the western United States, there are many drought areas that have limited groundwater and water usage restrictions.
We have LOTs of water! 4 springs, a pond and wet weather creeks.
Type of Land. The land you choose must be appropriate for the type of animals you will be sheltering. For example, large animals, especially as they age, require at land to live on. A site predominated by wooded