Yea or neigh: Horse controversy unresolved
FRISCO – Dozens of citizens from throughout the county packed the Buffalo Mountain Room in the County Commons Wednesday night to address a proposed minimum lot size variance request that would come with up to three horses owned by the landowners.The county Board of Adjustments (BOA) decided to continue the issue until its March 16 meeting after more than an hour of public comment that was about equally divided for and against the request.Pat and Gayle Quigley want to build a home, barn and corral on 14.3 acres at the end of Adams Way on Peak 7. They need the variance because the property is zoned A-1, which allows one home on 20 acres.More contentious, however, is the two horses – and potentially three – the couple wants on the land, which is partially comprised of steep hillsides and wetlands. The developable part of the land totals about four acres.
The issue angered people to the extent that in 2001, someone taped a bottle of antifreeze – a known killer of animals – to the Quigley’s fence with a message saying, “No horse will ever live on this land.” Last week, an anonymous caller threatened county senior planner Lindsay Hirsh, saying he “would regret it” if he recommended approval of the variance.Hirsh outlined a list at Wednesday’s meeting of eight conditions attached to the variance. The Quigleys agreed to seven of them, but feel the one that addresses mitigation is too onerous and needs to be revised.That stipulation calls for ongoing monitoring of downstream wells and water in South Barton Creek that runs through the property, berms and fences to keep the horses in one area, keeping a Dumpster on the property in which to dispose of horse manure and using an absorbent material to absorb urine in areas where horses might congregate.Unlike most BOA decisions, the stipulations regarding mitigation would be ongoing, which brought up the issue of how the efforts would be enforced and what kind of recourse neighbors would have if they were violated.
Neighbors opposing the project said they had nothing against horses or the Quigleys building a home on the site but were concerned about water and air quality issues in what they see is a residential neighborhood where horses are an inappropriate use.Discussion ran the gamut, from the annual output of horse manure to how it is biologically transformed into soil.”A barn can be a very clean place,” said Pam Krugman, who operates TAME, an organization on Gold Hill that uses horses for therapeutic uses. “I don’t know what’s so special about Peak 7. We’ve never had problems there.”Others said the existing neighbors should have known that parcel was zoned A-1 and that zoning allows horses and other livestock.
Cathy Radeug, the spokesperson for those in opposition to the horses, said manure removal requires extensive labor, contaminants from it could seep into downstream wells and could attract insects and rodents.BOA chair John Neiley said whatever decision the BOA made could set precedent for others seeking to bring horses onto property zoned A-1.”The standards we are going to discuss are more than likely to become the template for future applications on A-1 land,” he said. “I foresee that if the language gets worked into best management practices, it would be useful for future board issues.”Jane Stebbins can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 228, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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