A Beaufort business owner battling the county over his right to display big cats will head to trial in July over a zoning ordinance violation.
The trial for Beaufort Liquidation owner Jeff Lowe's zoning violation was added to the backup roster for the July 16 court session and could be heard that day if either of the cases scheduled for July 16 are resolved, assistant county attorney Allison Coppage said Thursday.
Lowe's attorney and attorneys from Beaufort County met Thursday morning to set a trial date. The county contends Lowe is in violation of a zoning ordinance for displaying lions and tigers on his property.
Lowe's animal population could grow in the weeks before his court date. He posted pictures to Beaufort Liquidation's Facebook page on Monday of tigers in transport cages, animals he said were being moved from a Colorado zoo. Last month, Lowe said he had completed the purchase of that zoo, Serenity Springs Wildlife Center, and planned to move the 150 animals to his property on Parker Drive near Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort.
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Even with a trial date now set, Beaufort County could still take emergency action if Lowe continues with his plan to move the animals to Beaufort.
Coppage said Thursday she was directed by County Council to write a proposed ordinance addressing exotic animals and was looking at several different options for the ordinance's language.
Council members are still discussing how to respond to the matter, but it could be added to their agenda for Monday's meeting, which begins at 4 p.m. in the county administration building, 100 Ribaut Road, Beaufort. The proposal could be added to the agenda as late as Monday; council members would need to approve adding it to the agenda by a two-thirds vote.
Follow reporter Matt McNab at twitter.com/IPBG_Matt.
- County: Beaufort Liquidation owner on watch , June 1, 2015