A popular Walton County Not-for-Profit organization is releasing the site plans for a major expansion. It will make Alaqua Animal Refuge the first of its kind in the entire country.

“Our current facility is about 8 acres,” said founder Laurie Hood.

The property doesn’t have a lot of acreage, plus it’s in a flood zone.

“So it’s kind of like a Noah’s Ark,” said Hood. “We have to take our animals and load them up and get them off property.”

For two years, Hood has been working to relocate the Refuge. And this month, she’s able to release the first conceptual site plan.

“People from both directions will be able to easily access our property,” said Hood.

They will go from eight acres to 100 acres. The late M.C. Davis donated 85 acres of land near JW Hollington Road. The Refuge purchased an additional 15 acres, giving them frontage – and access – to Highway 20.

“We’re not only going to continue the important work that we do here now, but we’re expanding our vision into more educational outreach,” said Hood.

The new facility includes performance and event venues, a medical clinic, chapel, cottages and restaurant. The goal is for the Refuge to become self-sustaining.

“Well, we’re kind of in uncharted territory,” said Hood. “We’re doing something completely different than any other shelter in the United States.”

Parts of the new property have already been cleared, and Hood hopes to begin construction next year.