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Developer offers land for Spotsy dog park

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A group that has been pushing for a public dog park in Spotsylvania County may finally get its wish.

A South Carolina-based realty company is proposing a dog park, a Dollar General and a church on 24 acres at the intersection of Smith Station and Gordon roads. JR Lex LLC, an entity of Southern Visions Realty, is asking that the land near Smith Station Elementary School be rezoned to allow commercial uses.

Landry Hepler, president of Spotsy Dog Park Inc., said he has been in talks with a representative of the realty company, which he says plans to donate about three acres to his nonprofit for the dog park. The nonprofit would be responsible for building the park, which is envisioned as a “community meeting place.”

The 9,100-square-foot Dollar General—which would be developed first—would be on 2.77 acres and the up to 50,000-square-foot church would be on 18 acres.

“You’re not going to have another shopping center,” Hepler said. “These are things that I think bring communities together.”

Hepler started lobbying for a dog park a couple of years ago, but the county Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors wouldn’t set aside taxpayer dollars for it.

The city of Fredericksburg paid $15,000 for a three-quarter-acre dog park off Kenmore Avenue near the canal path. Only city residents can use it.

The Spotsylvania dog park would be open to everyone, no matter where they live, Hepler said.

His nonprofit has raised close to $3,000, though he’s not sure what it will cost to develop the proposed site. The county had estimated the cost of a dog park at $200,000, but Hepler thinks he can build one for a lot less.

He said he plans to solicit help from businesses.

Plans for the dog park include a pavilion, a gravel parking lot, benches, chain-link fencing and trash cans. It would be open from dawn until dusk.

Officials with Southern Visions Realty could not be reached for comment.

Hepler and his wife Meredith, who have a mixed-breed dog named Ashby, actually moved from Spotsylvania to Caroline County this month. But he said he’s still committed to his goal for Spotsylvania, even though his new neighborhood has its own dog park.

Dogs, he said, need a variety of places to socialize.

“My vision for this dog park from the beginning was to have one that was open and available to any dog that wanted to use it,” he said.

More on the dog park.

Jeff Branscome: 540/374-5402