The Wild Park Safari Too Wild – Owner Sued, Ordered to Shut Down
The Wild Animal Park Drive-Thru Safari could soon be no more. Owner Jeff Taylor has been sued for violating town code and zoning laws.
"Today I was served papers of a lawsuit by the Town of Sullivan board in an effort to shut down my drive thru safari," Taylor shared on Facebook , saying that would lead to the closure of the zoo in Chittenango. "We busted our asses building the drive thru and invested a lot of money as a last ditch effort to save the business my family and I have dedicated our lives to building."
"Small businesses like The Wild are what make our community great," says Sullivan Town Supervisor John M. Becker. "Shutting down for months due to COVID-19 has hurt many of our businesses and we want them back open sooner rather than later, however that does not give any business owner the right to forego the safety of the community and not abide by the laws in place. Over the years the Town has approved every request that was properly applied for by Mr. Taylor."
Taylor claims he explained the emergency to save the business to town officials, who were 'not fully supportive' but didn't say no. "They waited until 15 minutes after my grand opening to serve me with cease and desist papers. Upon calling them they told me it was only to protect themselves and they didn’t expect me to stop my business."
Town officials say despite Taylor fully knowing he was required to obtain the proper permits and zoning designations and approvals, he elected to proceed to open a new and unapproved drive-thru safari business on land not approved or zoned for that use. He also failed to obtain the necessary Planning Board approvals required for such a business.
The move to a safari, allowing visitors to drive through the park, was Taylor's way of keeping his gates open. He says he's been working with officials, doing whatever is asked to move forward. "There is a pandemic going on and our country is being torn apart and the Town of Sullivan elected officials think my business is such a threat they want to shut it down?"
The Town claims to have received a number of complaints about the Wild Animal Park operating without any approvals or permits since it opened on May 18, 2020. "Neighbors have threatened to sue the Town over the safari. Mr. Taylor was made aware weeks prior to his opening that a safari type business would need prior zoning and land use approvals. To date, Mr. Taylor has failed to file any applications despite having worked on the site for weeks."
Taylor believes the lawsuit isn't about codes, but about politics. "This has nothing to do with my business, this is without a doubt a personal vendetta due to politics and a corrupt codes enforcement officer."
If Taylor has to shut down the safari, he fears he won't be able to continue. "At this point I am going to sell the zoo and all my properties. I just can’t fight them anymore. As of right now 2020 will be my final year open."
If you'd like to contact Town of Sullivan Supervisor or any board members:
John Becker (315) 687-9190
John E. Bruzuszkiewicz (315) 633-5594
Thomas J. Kopp (315) 687-9626
Kerry Ranger (315) 633-9057
Jeff Martin (315) 447-5886
A petition was started to save the Wild Animal Park and it received over 7000 signatures in a few hours. You can sing it at Change.org.