Whispering Meadows Ranch plans to move its equine-therapy mission west of Ormond Beach within the next two years.
The nonprofit off John Anderson Highway in Flagler Beach purchased a 9-acre parcel of land at 3310 W. State Road 40, about 5 miles west of I-95, CEO Helene Davis announced in a press release. Whispering Meadows completed the purchase on July 28.
According to realtor.com, the property was sold for $600,000.
The all-volunteer ranch, operated by Davis, her husband, Richard, and their daughter Kristine Aguirre, introduces horsemanship to children and adults with disabilities and special needs.
It is a member center of the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International.
Whispering Meadows has been in operation for 16 years.
The new property is about 4 acres larger than the current ranch and backs up to Tiger Bay State Forest, which has equestrian trails, allowing the ranch to offer trail rides to its veterans group, Aguirre said. But the property needs major work.
“It has no fencing, no paddock area, no shelter (for the horses),” she said.
The release said the new property is expected to be ready for use in two years, but Aguirre said that ideally it will take less time.
Because of supply shortages, she said, Whispering Meadows wanted to build a cushion into the timeline. She said the nonprofit has contractors lined up to begin work.
The property includes a three-bedroom, 1,600-square foot house, which will not be a residence. The family plans to use it for activities, recreation and office space, Aguirre said. There is a separate building that could serve as a caretaker’s quarters, she added.
“It’s a beautiful piece of property,” Aguirre said.
Whispering Meadows has been looking to move from its current property, which is in a residential area, for more than two years after some neighbors complained, including one whose land sale deal had fallen through because of the ranch’s proximity.
In February 2022, the Flagler County Commission voted to approve the ranch’s application for semi-public use on a 44-acre parcel near the county fairgrounds and County Road 13, which is owned by the state and leased to the county.
But the state later quashed the deal because it involved a private entity operating on public land.
Aguirre said the ranch is currently limiting sessions to four days a week in the afternoons.
We’re respecting our neighbors, and we’re keeping things to a minimum while we pursue the new property. We’re not holding any events, and we’re only doing riding lessons in the afternoon.”
— KRISTINE AGUIRRE
“We’re respecting our neighbors, and we’re keeping things to a minimum while we pursue the new property,” she said, noting that the ranch has a waiting list of 60 kids. “We’re not holding any events, and we’re only doing riding lessons in the afternoon.”
Aguirre said the new property is a 22-minute drive from the current property.
“Quite a few of our clients are from the Ormond Beach area,” Aguirre said. “We’ve gotten an overwhelmingly positive response from our Flagler clients (regarding the move).”
The Ormond Beach property is zoned for rural agriculture, with permitted uses that include single-family homes.
“We spoke to the county, and there are a few steps we’ll need to take to be in full operation,” Aguirre said.