Editorial: Horse rule?

Hooted down once, another attempt at an ordinance on keeping horses was presented to the selectmen last week, and sent to a Sept. 27 public hearing. It’s good they collaborated, but the proposal suggests the committee’s horse owners outmaneuvered its horse neighbors.

The ordinance affects only residential properties of 1.5 acres or less. Properties that have “successfully maintained horses for five years” would be exempt.

A half-acre minimum area “used solely for the keeping of horses” is required, but there’s no limit on how many horses may be kept there — odd, considering the rule was prompted by three horses being kept on a small lot.

Requirements that manure be stored, collected and “regularly removed” to “maintain a sanitary condition and minimize odor” aren’t specific, and the setback from manure piles to property lines is just 15 feet. The rule calls for fencing, a shed to “accommodate all horses,” and violators face potential fines of $100 to $250 a day. While most horse owners are responsible, these are big beasts and the town should protect neighbors with reasonable controls.