New ‘horse ordinance’ goes in front of selectmen Wednesday night

The horses are gone from Manor Road, and the uproar they sparked has died down. But a ‘horse ordinance’ created as a result of the controversy — with potential fines of $100 to $250 a day for violators — is still on the town’s to-do list.

A draft ordinance to more closely govern “keeping of horses on residential property 1.5 acres or less” is scheduled for presentation at the Board of Selectmen’s meeting Wednesday night, Sept. 6.

“I support it, spent a lot of time on it,” First Selectman Rudy Marconi said this week.

The proposed ordinance was created by a committee Marconi worked with, which included both horse owners and neighbors concerned about horses, horse odors and the like. The committee was created in the wake of a long, loud public hearing for an earlier draft of a regulation Marconi had come up with in response to complaints about horses being kept on a relatively small parcel off Manor Road.

That situation has eased.

“The individual removed the horses and placed them in facilities with proper care for horses, to the best of my knowledge,” Marconi said Tuesday, Sept. 5. “I don’t know where they went, but they are no longer on Manor Road.”

What does remain is the proposed ordinance to “regulate the management of horses and horse waste on properties of 1.5 acres of less” — although the proposed rule does say “any owner who has successfully maintained horses for five or more years” would be exempt.

“If you have a horse on an acre, technically you’d be illegal the date of passage, if this were to pass,” Marconi said. “So what we’re doing is exempting those people who have horses today from compliance with this ordinance at this point in time.”

The exemption is worded so that it can be passed on to future owners.  

Significant requirements of the proposal are:

  • A minimum “usable lot area” of at least one-half acre “that will be used solely for the keeping of horses and that contains no steep slopes or significant rock outcroppings.”
  • A “run-in shed or enclosed building” that is “sized to simultaneously accommodate all the horses on the property.“
  • Fencing “installed and maintained to safely contain the horses on the property” with two design options.
  • “Manure shall be collected frequently from all areas and regularly removed from the property to maintain a sanitary condition and minimize odor, dust-producing substances and waste so as to prevent any health hazard, pollutants, disturbance or nuisance conditions with respect to neighboring properties … The setback for the manure pile shall be a minimum of 15 feet from any property line…”
  • Property owners who receive written orders from the Director of Health pertaining to the manner their horses are kept, who do not appeal within three days or comply within 30 days, would be subject to “a civil penalty of not less than $100 or more than $250 per day for each day the violation persists…”

To be adopted, the proposed ordinance would have to be approved first by the Board of Selectmen and then by voters at a town meeting.

How did Marconi feel the selectmen would react to the proposed horse ordinance?

“We’ll see,” he said.