New twist in agricultural land use debate
Weddington resident Judy Jones got renewed hope Monday night, Jan. 17, that the town may not force her to choose between her four horses.
In December, the Weddington Town Council voted unanimously to retain an agricultural land-use rule restricting any landowner with less than 5 acres to two horses.
Jones keeps three miniature horses and one full-size one on her 2.48 acres.
But at a special meeting Monday, council members voted unanimously to consider redefining horse breeds and to enlist the expertise of N.C. Extension Service agent Jeff Rieves to craft a new ordinance.
Mayor Nancy Anderson had invited Rieves to look into the situation, following the vote in December. “My feeling was that the past discussion had less to do with the size of the animal than the size of compost management,” Anderson said.
According to Rieves horses are not created equal. A 1,000-pound horse creates 15 pounds of manure daily, while a miniature horse would produce about a fourth that amount. After visiting Jones’ property, as well as two nearby homeowners, Rieves found Jones “is following best management practices for manure management.”
He suggested she pile her horses’ manure as high as 3 feet to speed up its breakdown. Jones was spreading the waste in lower piles in deference to her neighbors, the extension agent said.
“Spreading it out actually slows down the composting process,” Rieves told council members Monday. “I tell my students that compost happens . . . all we can do is make it happen faster.”
“Anything made from carbon can be composted and used as excellent food for our soil,” Rieves said, including leaves and manure. Rieves suggested spreading the word to the county’s gardening community about available manure in Weddington. “Let the gardeners know, and stuff may get taken care of,” he said, pointing to Monroe where gardeners gobbled up leaf piles.