Horse owners in Riverton won a battle Tuesday night when the City Council voted to rescind a 6-month-old ordinance governing the number of large animals homeowners can house on properly zoned half-acre lots.
But while residents won a battle, the war apparently isn't over.Council members voted unanimously to allow residents in designated areas to keep two large animals (referred to as animal units in the city ordinance) on a half-acre lot. The council voted last October to make keeping of more than one large animal a conditional use that would require a specific action by the council to keep a second animal. Property owners said that action was unfair to those who had located in the city specifically so they could keep horses, and that it had also had an indirect impact on property values.
The council agreed to restore the old ordinance but told those assembled at Tuesday's public hearing that the future of "horse property" in the city may change.
Councilman Wilson Svedin said the city's planning commission will be asked to look at new rules to regulate future rezonings and new developments. He said the council may want to tighten the guidelines for new developments while leaving the existing properties unaffected.
In a planning meeting prior to the regular council meeting, Svedin suggested the council consider an ordinance allowing one horse per quarter acre in excess of the portion of the lot used for the residence. In effect, this would allow three horses on one-acre lots since one-fourth of the property generally is used for the residence and yard.
Council members agreed that keeping the city's rural atmosphere is a worthy goal. But they expressed concern over the horse problem, noting that many people who moved to the city for "horse property" gave up their animals after a year or so, letting the bulk of the large lots go to weeds.