The Town Board on Monday approved a new law that will let residents keep pet horses in a residential zone if they have at least three acres.
The board approved the change unanimously, after developing the law in response to an East Line Road family’s desire to keep their 10-year-old daughter’s horse on their 10-acre property.
The law will require applicants to obtain a special permit through the town Planning Board, and Jim and Mary Pellerin plan to meet town planning officials today to discuss applying to keep their daughter’s horse, Gus, at their home.
“We look forward to working with the Planning Board,” Mary Pellerin said.
The Pellerins first approached the town on the issue last fall.
“I support you and hope this brings you a step closer to bringing Gus home,” Councilwoman Tara Thomas said before the vote.
Malta, despite proclaiming public policies that it wants to keep much of the town rural, hasn’t had any provision allowing people to keep horses in R-1 residential zones.
They’re already allowed in other residential zones that require larger lots than the one-acre minimum in R-1 zones.
Under the new law, people who want to keep a horse must have at least three acres, 200 feet of road frontage, and have all buildings set back 50 feet from the road and neighbors. Manure management and other specific issues would be addressed on a case-by-case basis by the Planning Board during a special use permit application review.
The law met with general approval from horse advocates.
“I think what we’re looking at is a pretty reasonable set of guidelines,” resident Kate Bailey told the board during a public hearing.
“As you know, this is horse country, and it’s nice to see horses looked at on a friendly basis,” said Marsha Himler of Stillwater, regional representative of the New York State Horse Council.
Saratoga County has about 11,000 resident horses, the most of any county in New York state, and is actively considering the possibility of developing a horse show park. There are commercial breeding farms across the county, including some in Malta. The county office of Cornell Cooperative Extension has pioneered an equine education program.
Along with that has come an increase in the number of people, like the Pellerins, who want to keep one or two horses for pleasure riding. But until now Malta hasn’t had a law dealing with pleasure horses.
“Any time you can promote anything agricultural, it’s going to help your town,” said Frieda Garrison of Ballston, a representative of Saratoga County Farm Bureau.
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