FORT COLLINS, Colorado -- The good news: The never-ending Larimer County horse boarding conflict is nearly over.
The bad news: Property owners who want to board horses will think long and hard about whether to bother. You, the horse owner, may be hard-pressed to find somebody willing to share their farm or small acreage.
The good news: There are several large stables in the county with room for 80, 100, or even more horses, which already have special reviews or are grandfathered in, and just dying to get your business.
For those who boarded, trained or gave lessons before 1988: You may be able to prove you existed, and at what level, for the last 22 years, and be "grandfathered".
Two of the three county commissioners who have the final vote July 19 appeared ready Monday night to approve some version of proposed regulations for horse boarding. The planned effective date for the rules has moved from August 2 to September 7.
What the final draft looks like remains to be seen, but there will be “use by right” for places boarding a few horses, and tougher, more expensive levels of review the more you want to do. You might be able to trade a horse for the right to teach a couple of lessons, and you can expect a break on fees, and a kinder, gentler approach during the one-year “transition period” for existing horse facilities.
Instead of the one-horse-per-half-acre rule we follow now, the latest change Monday night limits property owners to one boarded horse per 2.5 acres. Those not qualifying for “use by right” will have to develop resource management plans, document clientele and riding lesson volume, be visited and evaluated by county staff, make potential facilities improvements, and get “certified”.
The main selling point of the plan is that it’s better than forcing everybody into a long, tens-of-thousands-of dollars special review (including consultants’ costs), which has been the rule for 22 years. Problem was, Larimer County operated on a complaint basis, there were few complaints, few knew the rule existed. Some now object to losing a property right and way of life.
Another selling point is that you can increase your property’s value by getting the county seal of approval. Oddly enough, I had the Better Business Bureau call yesterday offering me the same thing.
Anyway, the angst and crying “foul” are all water under the bridge. Horse boarding is a done deal in Larimer County. Commissioners, who tweaked rules Monday night with what remains of the volunteer working group assigned to the project, urged members all to return July 19 to support the plan, and this time, no dissenters please.
Commissioners also invited the public to bring feedback to the July 19 hearing. The plan is in place however, and this is just my opinion, but don’t expect any major changes.
Commissioners Steve Johnson and Lew Gaiter nodded and smiled Monday night when planning director Linda Hoffman alluded to a “final” vote. Commissioner Tom Donnelly remained noncommittal.
Stable owners and property owners boarding just “a few” horses: The county will come a-knockin’. It’s not a question of if, but when. Stay tuned as the final plan emerges.
Quotes from Monday night meeting
Contact Larimer County commissioners
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