Bernice Ende: In it for the long ride
Horse boarding: 'Important to the rural character of our county'

Horse land use rules: Final vote?

FORT COLLINS, Colorado -- Larimer County commissioners are set for a final vote tonight on sweeping revisions of horse boarding stable land use rules.

The new rules purge a largely unenforced 1988 land use rule that requires "special review" for anyone boarding more than four horses. Special
reviews can cost land owners more than $10,000 including $2,300 in county fees, plus consultants needed to complete paperwork.

The proposed rules, in the works for more than a year and a half, created controversy in the horse community because unless there was a complaint -- and there were very few -- the county left stables alone for the last 20 years.

The proposal's road to approval has been rough, with planning commissioners tabling an advisory vote in November, and county commissioners, who have the final vote, sending it back to the volunteer working group for more work in May.

In place of the current four-horse rule, property owners boarding horses will have a tiered set of options based on the size of their property, horseback riding lesson load, and the number of horses they serve. Very small operations and people with large properties will retain some "accessory" use by right.

At minimum, many boarding stables will have to go through a "public site plan" review, which includes neighbor approval, a resource management plan, planning meetings with, and approval by county staff. Large operations will still face the special review process.

Stables with previous "grandfathered" (legal, non-compliant status certified by the county) or those with pre-existing approved, special reviews will not be affected unless they expand.

How the county plans to enforce the new, more complex rules and educate the horse industry on changes will be up to staff, who could be challenged by possible personnel cuts.

A one-year "transition program" will cut existing stables' new $300 application fee in half. Unless a stable falls under "use by right", it will automatically start at the public site plan review level, and move up the tier of necessary approvals as needed.

Proposal details

Previous coverage

The commissioners' hearing is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. tonight, First Floor, Hearing Room, 200 West Oak Street, Fort Collins, Colorado.

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