Wild cat sanctuary planned to help revitalize town

Wild cat sanctuary planned to help revitalize town
Updated: Apr. 4, 2018 at 6:54 PM EDT
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FAIR BLUFF, NC (WECT) - Leaders in a town devastated by Hurricane Matthew are thinking outside the box to revitalize the area.

A big cat rescue sanctuary is in the works for downtown Fair Bluff. The owner of Shizzy's Wild-Cat Rescue got the OK at a town council meeting Tuesday night.

According to council member Randy Britt, people pass through Fair Bluff on the way to Myrtle Beach, and the hope is the sanctuary could be a tourist attraction.

Britt said this is the first step in reviving a town that hasn't seen new business in a while.

"When something positive starts happening and people start seeing this, and they see it on a daily basis...see, we've been a year and a half, and it's been pretty much a lot of talk and not a lot of action and now, we're seeing action," he said.

Shizzy's will have to present the idea to the planning board to break ground.

The owner of the sanctuary, Shazir Haque, said it needs Fair Bluff just as much as the town needs it.

"We had to pick a place that needed economic development so we could market ourselves as not just good people who want to help animals, but market ourselves as we want to help the people here as well," Haque said. "We want to bring jobs back. We want to bring tourism. We want to make sure restaurants and other businesses that have barely been able to keep their head above water especially after Hurricane Mathew."

A family that has owned the property where the old Ford dealership sat for more than 50 years is giving the land to the sanctuary free of charge.

"It represents a resurrection of the town," said David Small, whose family owns the property. "It's a beginning to something new and hopefully from that, there will be some offspring."

"We have to have a positive look on things, even how bad it is, but it's not going to be quick," Britt added. "It's going to be a month or two. It's going to be several years down the road. We are coming back. We will come back and we will be stronger eventually. I hope I get to see it. I hope I last long enough."

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