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Copyright 2012 Rocky Mountain Rider. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Reproduction of any editorial material, artwork and photos is strictly forbidden without express written permission of the publisher. For information about reprint rights, please contact the editor; editor@rockymountainrider.com.

 

GallEP Victory for Equestrian  

Land Use

From GallEP— Gallatin Equestrian Partnership, Bozeman, MT

 

December 2012 issue

 

      Living in Montana, horse owners have historically enjoyed agricultural protections from development encroachment thanks to the Right to Farm Act. However, we can’t assume that recreational/commercial horse pursuits will continue to be protected, even though Montana Code Annotated 76-2-902 specifically states that commercial agriculture includes recreational equine use.

      For example, as zoning around the City of Bozeman is being updated, well-meaning county planning staff introduced a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) process to allow for public input when a personal-use horse facility is changed to a heavier, more commercial use.

      Sounds reasonable, doesn’t it? Let’s look a little deeper. That would, in effect, be singling out horse uses from the rest of agriculture. No other agricultural operation is required to go through any process to put up additional buildings or alter the intensity of their operations, so why should horse owners?

      By defining “Commercial Equestrian Facilities” and changing their status from “Allowed Use” to “Conditional Use” means that all existing horse operations would then become “non-conforming,” and in order to be “grandfathered in,” those operations would have to register with the county simply to continue what they’ve been doing for decades or longer.

      Additionally, any personal-use horse facility wanting to change the intensity of use, would have to pay a fee and go through a public hearing process to do so.  

 

GallEP is selling T-shirts to raise awareness of equestrian traffic and as a fund-raiser for the group. Email gallepmt@yahoo.com for more information.

      This all has the effect of making it harder to own and keep horses near town. Multiplied around the state, this would be a detriment to our communities. Horses were integral to the foundation of the West, are an important part of our western culture and heritage, and are vital to our local economies.

      What can we do to prevent this scenario? Stay informed, get involved, and speak up! That’s what they did last week in Bozeman , with great success.

      See the write up below from GallEP Co-founder and President, and Gallatin County Planning Board President, Marianne Amsden:  

GREAT NEWS!

     Thanks to truly fantastic testimony by Tamzin Brown, Connie and Al Lien, Ruth Hall, Kris Werner, Pam Dunkle, Dayle Kountz and Nick Shrauger, the Gallatin County Planning Board voted not to impose a new CUP (Conditional Use Permit) on commercial equestrian facilities!

     It was clear that the reason for this result was due to concerned horse owners taking time to show up and testify, and due to several compelling email arguments against CUPs received by The Planning Department. Thanks to all those letter writers as well: Jen Mohler, Wendy Lessley, Madeline Lieb, Wendy Sonnenberg and Rosi Slater.

     I can’t thank you all enough for coming to the rescue of all local horse owners.

     It’s not over yet, however!! The Planning Department will be working on Special Event CUP wording and a new CUP designation for any commercial activity that generates a certain level of additional traffic and other possible issues, such as sanitation and noise to deal with issues regarding large events and commercial business in residential neighborhoods.

     I don’t expect to see that language for at least a month. I’ll be sure let everyone know about the new language and the date when the Planning Board will be discussing it so you can comment on it.

     Thanks again for taking this seriously, showing up, and fighting for our agricultural rights!  

 

      This result demonstrates that democracy is alive and well, and that people can make a difference if they get involved. But be on the lookout. When development hits Montana again, we may fall victim to the nationwide statistic of losing 200 acres per hour of land suitable for agriculture.  

For more information visit www.gallepmt.org, email gallepmt@yahoo.com or visit the Equestrian Lands Conservation Resource at elcr.org.

Copyright 2012 Rocky Mountain Rider. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Reproduction of any editorial material, artwork and photos is strictly forbidden without express written permission of the publisher. For information about reprint rights, please contact the editor; editor@rockymountainrider.com.

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