Horse ordinance is approved by town meeting

A "horse ordinance" extending town regulation of horses and a variety of other "hooved animals" — ponies, pigs, goats, cattle, donkeys, mules, even bison and camels are included — was approved by a town meeting that nearly filled the 160-seat capacity of the library's program room Wednesday night, Dec. 13.

The motion was approved on a standing vote that meeting moderator Ed Tyrrell judged to be "two to one" in favor of the regulation.

The ordinance to “regulate the keeping of livestock on small lots in high-density residential areas” governs many aspects of keeping horses and other livestock — fencing, manure storage, sanitation, run-in sheds. The new regulation applies only to lots of less than a half-acre in size and, First Selectman Rudy Marconi noted Wednesday night, contains a grandfather clause exempting properties that have livestock now.

Much of the evening's debate concerned whether smaller animals other than horses — goats, little pet pigs and the like — should be exempted. But Tyrrell said that an amendment to limit the ordinance to horses was too great a change from how the meeting had been advertised, after Marconi had shared town attorneys' advice only non-substantive changes could be made.

Backers of the regulation included many from the Manor Road neighborhood where the keeping of three horses on a one-acre lot had caused an uproar over the last year — those horse are now gone — but there were also some voices from other areas of town. They described how the smells and sanitation problems of horses poorly kept could ruin the outdoor pleasures of a suburban neighborhood — barbecues, kids playing basketball in the driveway.