Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Dear Editor,

As a horse and landowner in Chaffee County I am very worried about actions our county officials are taking which could affect all county horse and livestock owners. The removal of our property rights as county landowners should be alarming to everyone regardless of your political affiliation or feelings on this ongoing issue. If you are a stable owner, rancher, or horse hobbyist, or just a property owner concerned about your property rights, this precedence of overreaching county restrictions on horse owners due to one isolated neighbor dispute should terrify you.

Neighbors of Alison Brown lobbied the county staff to declare her horse stables and kennels an “Outfitting Facility” because they didn’t like her dogs and the horse trailer traffic. Although the dogs have been moved, the County is still insisting that Alison get a permit as an Outfitting Facility and they received a Court order to prevent her from using her horses for “riding out or hunting with foxhounds on public land with any individuals who are not affecting substantial control over the foxhounds”.  Alison Brown is no longer conducting any “fox hunting” from her property but is merely stabling and riding horses on her property with friends. Tonight’s hearing will be for a Limited Impact Review to grant her a permit to allow her friends to use her horses to ride with the foxhounds on public land, whether she rides them in the county or not. If this passes there will certainly be more expensive lawsuits against the county that we citizens will pay for.

Magistrate Hunter granted the County’s injunction against Alison Brown, but pointed out that the County’s interpretation of their Land Use Code was so broad that they could require a permit from even a grandfather taking his grandson out riding under their “Outfitting facility” regulation.  The staff report is recommending as conditions for approval of an “Outfitting Facility” permit that one would have to get a Commercial well, purchase water augmentation, get commercial building permits for your horse barns and get a commercial road access permit.  These conditions would counter both Chaffee County building codes, which does not require building permits for agricultural structures and State policy which permits augmented wells to be used for watering livestock, which is considered an incidental commercial use even for ranch or farms where animals are being raised commercially.

If you are concerned about your rights to keep, board, ride and loan out your horses to friends, family and clients without having to get a commercial well, augmentation certificates, commercial road permits and building permits and don’t want the county tell you who can or can’t use your horses, it is imperative that you contact the County Planning Commission members Mike Allen, Dan McCabe, Karin Adams, Rob Treat, Tracy Vandaveer, Bruce Cogan, Bill Baker, Marjo Curgus or Joe Stone and please attend the meeting on Monday November 5th at 104 Crestone Avenue at 5:30 pm and make your concerns known.

Laurie Lau