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Zone change required to keep horse in town

Amish horse and buggy 💲
Amish horse and buggy 💲

Wellesley councillors waded into familiar territory this week in hearing arguments for and against allowing a citizen to keep a horse on a residential property, in Linwood in this instance.

A public planning session December 22 went over an application filed by the owners of 5288 Ament Line, who are looking for a zoning change to permit a horse to be kept as a primary means of transportation. The meeting was for information purposes, with council making no decisions until a later date.

Because the property is in a settlement area, typically a horse would not be permitted to be kept on the property, though Wellesley council has gone either way in past cases.

Allowing a horse on the property is not usually accepted. Because of this, a zoning bylaw must come into effect to make this an acceptable practice.

Township planner Geoff VanderBaaren went over the details of the property at the corner of Ament Line and Alice Street, noting it’s home to a two-storey detached house. The current owners, who’ve been there just over a year, have proposed adding an 48-square-metre barn to the property if their application is approved.

 In response to a question from Coun. Peter van der Maas, VanderBaaren said in the past six years two similar requests had been made, one of which was approved and the other rejected.

In such cases, the horse kept on the property must serve as the main mode of transportation for the residents. In addition, other provisions include a system to contain manure, which must be removed at regular intervals; and the structure where the horse and manure is kept must be set back from the interior side and rear lot lines a minimum distance equal to the height of the building.

In discussion, councillors heard the argument that refusing the application would be akin to the violation of the owners freedom of religion. Previous legal cases have found that while refusing such measures may not be unconstitutional, a judge in one instance found that there are circumstances where a blanket ban is not allowed.

Council is expected to vote on the matter when planning staff brings back a report, perhaps next month.

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