The County Commission granted its approval for a potential public-private partnership with the equine therapy nonprofit.
The Whispering Meadows equine therapy ranch on John Anderson Highway may shift its operations to a vacant parcel of state-owned land at the Flagler County Fairgrounds property in a new public-private partnership agreement with the county government.
"We have not yet agreed to move to this site, but we are very hopeful we can come to a fair agreement with the county on this new parcel, which will allow the programs to expand," Kristine Aguirre, who runs the ranch with her parents Helene and Richard Davis, said in an email to the Palm Coast Observer. "We are excited for the future of Whispering Meadows and look forward to fulfilling our mission of serving those with disabilities and our veterans in our community."
The Flagler County Commission voted 4-0 to approved a memorandum of understanding with the ranch at a July 12 commission meeting, and commissioners will consider a lease for the organization at a future meeting. (One member of the five-member commission, Commissioner Joe Mullins, was absent.)
The ranch, which serves children, disabled people and veterans, has operated for years at 5011 John Anderson Highway but became the center of a community dispute after a nearby property owner’s planned land sale deal fell through. The property owner and some neighbors blamed the ranch, saying it should not be operating in a residential area.
The county's planning board found in favor of the ranch's right to continue operations, but before the matter moved before the County Commission, the county government suggested that the ranch shift its operations west.
The nonprofit's management agreed to discuss that possibility, and the ranch has reduced its operations as its management has worked with the county government to find a solution.
This story has been corrected to clarify that Whispering Meadows has not yet agreed to the potential move.