Walking horses: Neighbors unhappy about manure

Ridgefield has lofty zoning regulations when it comes to livestock — dating back to the town’s beginnings of farmers in an agricultural economy.

Residents may have as many livestock as they can maintain on a half-acre of land, which, in the 1800s, allowed them to feed their families and take part in the primary business economy.

Fast forward a couple of hundred years and Tom Pesce — a magician by trade who lives on Lewis Drive — has a neighbor on Manor Road with three horses.

He is not happy about it.

“Because of a 200-year law saying this is OK, a horse has broken through our fence into our yard,” he told the Board of Selectmen at its Feb. 22 meeting.

“They walk horses down the street and manure is left on the road. There are dog cleaning laws, but no horse cleaning laws.”

He asked the board to pass an ordinance — similar to one that was passed in 2007 on Abbott Avenue, five blocks away from Pesce’s house — exempting Shadow Lane, Louis Drive, and Manor Road from the zoning regulations that permit horses on properties of a half-acre or more.

Closed windows

Pesce and his family are not the only ones complaining.

Multiple families from around the area raised concerns about the smell, saying they can’t open their windows anymore.

Inland Wetlands Director Beth Peyser inspected the scene, and said in an email to First Selectman Rudy Marconi that the three horses on Manor Road were under the number that is legally permitted.

Pesce, who is filing a lawsuit against tenants Steve and Jessica Strieter, said his neighbor’s property is 1.03 acres but where the horses are kept is much less than half of that.

The property has a pool, a driveway and an electric fence — further limiting the total acreage.

The fence was recently installed to deter the horses from going into the property of a neighbor, according to Pesce.

Gimme shelter

Pesce also spoke about the harsh conditions the animals are being kept in.

There is no shelter for the horses.

“They were there through the winter,” said Pesce, “through the sleet and through the elements, standing in their own manure.”

Pesce said that other surrounding horse-friendly towns have much clearer laws for keeping horses.

Wilton’s regulations allow one horse per half-acre.

The Board of Selectmen said that it will continue to review the situation, but that it is a long process and it could take a year or so before any ordinance is passed.

“We’ll go ahead and proceed with the research,” Marconi said. “If we do decide to move forward with an ordinance, we would draft a modification then move forward to public hearing — then a town meeting for approval. …

“The food truck ordinance took almost two years.”