Weddington council says ‘no’ to mini horse amendment
Weddington Town Council decided to drop an issue in question since 2009.
In a special work session Thursday, March 8, the council voted unanimously to ratify its decision not to direct the planning board to consider a miniature horse amendment.
Currently, the Weddington horse ordinance allows residents to keep only one horse per acre of land. The amendment would view mini horses as a 3 to 1 ratio to regular horses, allowing residents to keep three minis per acre of land.
Weddington resident Judy Jones has pushed to have this amendment passed for nearly three years. She owns one average-sized horse and three miniature horses. Based on weight measurements, Jones feels the miniature horses should be considered as one large horse.
Jones had kept at least two miniature horses and one large horse on her property for five years prior to grumbles from neighbors. Several neighbors complained about the smell of manure coming from the property, and Jones was told she couldn’t have that many horses on 2.5 acres.
With a handful of neighbors on her side, Jones claims the complaints were personal attacks against her from two families.
“Two neighbors got together against me,” Jones said. “One lives in Oregon now, but they’re still helping the other.”
Jones tried to have miniature horses grandfathered into the ordinance. When the council rejected her plea, she tried to persuade council members to adopt a text amendment to the ordinance.
In February, the council originally voted 3 to 1 to submit the text amendment to the planning board, with council member Warner Thomisser against the decision. For Thomisser, the issue wasn’t the horses; it was the manure.
According to a Rutgers University fact sheet, a horse typically generates 5 percent of its body weight in manure per day. For three miniature horses weighing an average of 200 pounds each, that would be about 30 pounds of manure per day. Add that to an average of 52 pounds produced daily by a large horse, and you get more than 80 pounds of manure in one day.
Council members said they have received numerous e-mails from neighbors of Jones, complaining of how her place smells and manure is running off her property. However, the council also received phone calls and e-mails from neighbors who are in favor of the amendment, claiming there have been no issues regarding the smell of manure coming from Jones’s place.
Jones is confused as to why the council would vote against pursuing the amendment when, mere weeks before, three out of four council members were in support of her. “They’ve gone back and forth on the issue,” Jones said. “Now they won’t return my phone calls. They’re using the excuse from Thomisser, but there’s no ordinance on manure control.”
After researching mini horses and their impact on the environment, council member Pam Hadley was in favor of the 3 to 1 ratio. She originally had the support of the council and sent reply e-mails to citizens voicing her support of the amendment. However, Hadley lost the support of the council, who cited unspecified behavior of Jones as a reason to stop pursuing the amendment.
“Without having the votes (of other council members), it would have been futile to ask the planning board to spend time with their research,” Hadley said in an e-mail. “I stand by my decision of a 3 to 1 ratio, but unfortunately I am but one vote.”
Jones denies any negative behavior on her part and feels like the council is singling her out. “The town did not stand behind me fairly, and they will not tell me why they decided (against the amendment), except excuses, such as my behavior,” Jones said.
Because it costs hundreds of dollars per month to board two miniature horses and Jones doesn’t currently have a job, the money to keep them isn’t there. “If I can’t find homes for two miniatures, I will have to have them put down,” she said. “They’re my pets. Hopefully someone will take them.”
Anyone who wants to offer a home for the horses can email Jones at firstname.lastname@example.org.