“Outside this lovely home, drive down the circular driveway covered by mature trees and be greeted by an old barn and about 3 acres cleared ideal for horses.”
Thus reads the real estate listing I found online for a 5.6 acre property in Salisbury NB. It is now owned by the Dangremond family. They bought it so they could keep their horses Misty and Reiner at home instead of having to board them. A barn and cleared pastureland – ideal for horses!
Then, while putting up fencing last year, they were told that the property is zoned RU, Residential Use. They appealed for rezoning, a variance, or even a temporary permit to keep the horses there for even just a year. Denied.
Following the story on CBC NB news, I’ve hoped, even believed, that the town council would wind its neck in and allow the horses to stay. But the news report yesterday was that the horses must move.
A neighbour has offered to board the horses – yes, a neighbour. A distance of 150 metres, CBC says. Not a big distance for the Dangremond daughter to walk to see her pets. Also not a big distance for the town council to make whatever variance is needed so those pets can stay in their own barn.
I realize municipal planners must do what is best for their region now and in the future. Evidently, the town foresees residential expansion in the area where the Dangremonds live. But, if houses are not going to be built in the immediate future, why not make an exception for the Dangremond horses with as many caveats as the council deems necessary?
This sad story reminds me of when we were still in Ontario, hunting for a small farm in Elgin County. John Blake of Elgin Realty warned me that what looked like a farm might not be zoned as one. So I started phoning municipal, township and county offices to get an overview of the zoning basics. No generalities, only a labyrinth.
One side of a road might be agricultural, the other – just as distant from a street light or a Tim Horton’s – is not. A township line at the edge of a property means another set of rules. Animals and farming may be “grandfathered” in after a zoning change, meaning they can stay only as long as those owners stay. Other times you can bring in new animals as long as the presence of farm animals is continuous. So, if the existing animals move off before the sale closing date, you can’t move new ones in. The planners told me to ask about each and every property.
That said, Salisbury has the chance to make a statement that matches its lovely rural-looking appearance. Let the Salisbury horses stay at home.