A horse is a horse, of course, of course. That is, of course, unless the horse is one of your neighbours.
Some Linwood residents aren’t too keen to have a couple of horses stabled in their residential neighbourhood, showing up at Tuesday night’s Wellesley council meeting to voice their concerns.
Ervin Albrecht of 5209 Ament Line is seeking a zoning change to allow the horses to be kept in the settlement area. He’s planning to build a 400-square-foot extension to an existing garage on the property to house the animals, which would be used as a primary means of transportation.
In a presentation to council, township planner Geoff VanderBaaren said Wellesley has no provisions for permitting horses in settlement areas, unlike neighbouring Woolwich and Perth East townships that have blanket clauses in their bylaws for just such cases. Instead, site-specific changes to the zoning bylaw would be required. Among the regulations he recommends for such an amendment are controls on manure storage and removal, as well as a minimum 15-foot distance between the proposed barn and any neighbouring dwellings.
Those restrictions weren’t enough to mollify neighbours, however. Some submitted written objections in advance of the July 8 public meeting, while others showed up in person.
“Having horses next door, what’s that going to do to the value of the property?” asked Daniel Brubaker, who lives next door.
Pointing out a provision to permit a corral in the yard (requiring a six-foot-high fence enclosing it), he added there are safety concerns should a child wander in and a tragedy ensue.
For Derek Kidnie, who lives across the road, the issue of manure storage and disposal created more questions than answers, particularly the potential impact on surface and groundwater due to runoff.
He, like Brubaker, expressed some scepticism about the ability of bylaw enforcement staff to monitor conditions at the property.
Staff noted bylaw issues are often enforced on a complaint basis.
Although VanderBaaren said this would be the first time Wellesley would allow for a horse to be kept in a settlement area, councillors were quick to point out several examples of people doing just that, apparently not in conformity with township bylaws.
Coun. Herb Neher noted an example in Crosshill where neighbours were apprehensive at first but subsequently found there to be no problems.
“If it affects your lifestyle in any way, then we have to act,” he said of such cases, adding that if there are no complaints, then everything just goes on.
The applicant, Ervin Albrecht, said his intention is to be a good neighbour.
“I want to keep it clean,” he said of having horses on the property.
With some of the neighbours in attendance suggesting he look into keeping the horses in a barn at a nearby church, Albrecht said he was open to the idea.
In the meantime, staff will continue to review the zone-change application, coming back to council with a recommendation at a later date.
Mayor Ross Kelterborn said he wants to see a legal opinion about the rights of keeping horses in cases where they are someone’s primary means of transportation.