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Surprise! New leeway in horse land use rules

FORT COLLINS, Colorado -- Larimer county commissioners expanded privileges for boarding stables' "use by right" Tuesday night, adding to new rules the right to give up to 15 lessons per week, and host non-profit activities for which a small fee is charged.

Commissioners unanimously approved a sweeping re-write of existing horse land use rules, and then, at the behest of commissioner Tom Donnelly, proceeded to surprise everybody attending the hearing by amending the proposal, which was more than a year and a half in development.

Proposal details (pre-amendments)

The amendments came following public concern regarding properties that host non-profit horse activities getting dinged for "trainee visits", and being forced into some sort of review, as well as comments that "use by right" did not go far enough.

The two amendments expand possible horse activities for small as well as large horse properties as a use by right. Larger operations will still have to undergo approvals ranging from public site plan review to a full special review because of client volume.

Commissioners thanked the public -- and everybody involved in developing the new rules -- for "extraordinary" feedback that helped them make their decision.

"We've seen other counties in this area pass regulations that I think have hurt the horse industry," said commissioner Steve Johnson, "and I think it's because they haven't taken the time to listen."

"Nobody needs to move to Weld County anymore," said commissioner Donnelly. 

"What I'm actually really excited about is that we are recognizing how important the equestrian industry is to Larimer County," said commissioner Lew Gaiter. "While we may need to go back and look at this again in a half year to a year ... we're a lot better off than we were a couple of hours ago. I think this is something we can all be very proud of."

Hearing quote highlights

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