Essex Zoning Officials Approve Change Allowing Horses In Village Residence
The Essex Planning & Zoning Commission (PZC) has approved a change to its regulations, which becomes effective Oct. 29, to permit horses in areas zoned as Village Residence District. Current zoning regulations for this district do not permit livestock, poultry, or other animals, except as household pets.
The text amendment contains certain limitations on horse owners in the Village Residence District including a four-acre lot size requirement, a maximum number of horses, and setback requirements for any building used to house horses. A special exception application that includes a best management practices plan must also be approved by the commission.
PZC Chair Russell Smith, in making a motion to approve the text change, said, “I believe that it would, in this particular case, maintain some open space.”
Smith discussed the changes made to the application, as requested by the commission since it was first submitted in July.
It “provides some notice to the abutting [property owners] through the special exception process and the opportunity for them to participate in a public hearing,” said Smith. “It also enables…preservation of land in the Village Residence zone by setting a minimum acreage.”
The application for the text change was brought forth by Tom Metcalf on behalf of Mary and Ian Lewis. The Lewises own a 10-acre property in Ivoryton that is zoned Village Residence District that they intend to subdivide. Metcalf plans to purchase a parcel of land from the Lewis’ for his horses and a personal dwelling.
On Oct. 5, the third and final public hearing on the application, the commission heard from two members of the public including Ivoryton resident Gary Dayharsh. Dayharsh discussed the 10-acre parcel of land owned by the Lewises.
“I agree with the idea of not having livestock in the Village Residence zone for the most part, but I do believe that there are certain properties that could support livestock on them,” said Dayharsh. “I think this is one of them. I think it’s shortsighted not to see that there are some exceptions to be considered.”
David Rosengren, an alternate on the commission, discussed how the application could potentially be considered spot zoning, as he said it did not benefit anyone other than the applicant.
Legal Counsel Larry Shipman and Consulting Planner John Guszkowski clarified that it would not be considered spot zoning, as the use would be available throughout the zone, with several eligible properties.
“The practical essence is that it doesn’t advance a general public purpose in this town to allow two or three people to have livestock on their property, that’s the point…whether technically spot zoning or not,” said Rosengren.
Vice Chair Jane Siris seconded the motion by Smith to approve the application. Members Gary Riggio and Robert Day voted in favor while member Mark Reeves and alternate Jeffrey Lovelace voted against it.