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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Ind. Gov't. - "Horse manure is raising a big stink in Cynthiana"

Valerie Werkmeister reported July 16th in The Posey County News:

Members of the Cynthiana Town Council found themselves embroiled in a controversy with a local resident over the legalities of keeping a horse, pony and a goat at her residence. Tara Davis, who resides on Main Street in Cynthiana had appeared with her husband, Rick, at last month’s council meeting regarding a nuisance complaint regarding having the animals within town limits. The Davis’ contended that they contacted both the town hall and Mindy Bourne of the Posey County Area Plan Commission to check if any local ordinances existed prior to the animals’ being brought to the property.

Tara, along with a neighbor friend only identified as Courtney, contended that she was informed there were no ordinances in place concerning having the animals on the property. The Davis’ contend the animals provide therapeutic benefits to help the Davis’ son, who has cerebral palsy and is deaf.

During a meeting on July 10, council members produced ordinance # 1992-11-4, concerning animals that are prohibited within the town. Council president Steve Cox admitted there were a few problems with the filing system at the Town Hall and they were unable to locate the ordinance until recently.

The ordinance states that a horse may only be kept within the town limits if the custodian has a minimum of one-acre of fenced land per horse. Council members contend that the Davis’ property does not meet these criteria and is therefore, in violation of the ordinance.

Tara then argued that she had contacted a lawyer who informed her that because the animals are for therapeutic uses, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) would “trump any other ordinance.”

Cynthiana’s attorney, Jeff Ahlers argued that there are no Indiana laws that states therapeutic animals would override those by town ordinance. He also stated that he had spoken with her lawyer earlier that day, who informed Ahlers he had not yet been retained by the Davis’. Tara proceeded to say that she would be retaining his services the following day. * * *

Ultimately, as cooler heads prevailed, a compromise was reached. Tara agreed to remove the goat and the horse from the property. She would keep the pony and agreed to keep the smell from the manure piles from becoming a nuisance. All parties agreed to a 60-day trial period before returning to report on the status. The fines previously assessed were also rescinded.

ILB: Some readers may remember this June 29, 2010 ILB entry, to which today's story bears many parallels. The earlier report is from Kokomo, where "the existence of the law wasn’t discovered until months after Neal paid thousands to locate a horse barn on her South Union Street property. * * * A clerk apparently happened upon the 1966 ordinance in a drawer. It is not a part of the Kokomo Code of Ordinances, which is posted by the City Attorneys' Office on the City of Kokomo website."

Posted by Marcia Oddi on July 17, 2012 10:36 AM
Posted to Indiana Government