With horses removed, will town pursue ordinance?

The horses that sparked an uproar in the Manor Road neighborhood are expected to be gone this week, First Selectman Rudy Marconi said Monday, but he didn’t know how their removal would affect a committee studying ways to tighten town regulations on the keeping of horses.

“The question will become, if this particular situation has been resolved with the removal of the horses, do we continue to move forward with an ordinance?” Marconi said.

“There are some who feel we should absolutely move forward with a minimal ordinance, while there are those who feel if we’ve resolved the Manor Road issue then there’s no reason for an ordinance. That’s going to be the issue going forward.”

Three horses on one acre

The controversy surrounded the keeping of three horses on a one-acre lot at 79 Manor Road.

A committee was formed after a May 10 public hearing at which 21 speakers were almost evenly divided between neighbors offended by horses on the relatively small lot, and horse owners from other areas of town who were worried by the prospect of stricter regulation.

The result of the hearing was the formation of a committee of about a dozen people that, like the hearing, is fairly evenly split between proponents of tighter control and horse owners opposed to too many rules.

The committee has met twice, Marconi said Monday.

“The direction has been to reduce the ordinance to an absolute minimum. And the reason for this revision is to help minimize the impact on those residents who have horses, and properly care for their animals, resulting in never a complaint,” Marconi said.

“The committee wants to be sure that if we are to pass an ordinance, that it’s as least-restrictive as possible, while requiring some best practices to be in place: proper sheltering; proper bedding, if there are stalls; fencing, manure disposal — issues that are basic to the well-being of the animals.”

In the draft regulation that was under study, there was a minimum land area required for keeping horses: 1.5 acres for one horse with another “usable” half-acre required for each additional horse.

“And that’s the part that may restrict many current owners of horses that are being cared for properly, with no complaints,” Marconi said.

To adopt a regulation would require a public hearing, and then a town meeting vote.

If a regulation is eventually adopted, it would address issues that have now come up twice in recent years — recently on Manor Road, and a couple of years ago on Abbott Avenue.

“It will accomplish several things,” Marconi said, “it will help reduce the odor of horse manure, and result in a better kept animal.”