Newlin supervisor responds to horse ordinance coverage

Editors Note: We typically do not run letters responding to the stories written in other publications, in this case, The Kennett Paper. However, as we were unable to cover last week’s Newlin Board of Supervisors meeting — we have limited resources (and yes, we’re seeking to hire additional staff) and felt that covering the Unionville-Chadds Ford School District Board of Education meeting and the planned presentation on possible elementary school redistricting served a greater community good. I did, prior to the meeting, extend the option to the Newlin Board of Supervisors the chance to offer their side of the issue and they opted to accept that offer, and asked this response, which has been sent to other local media outlets as well, be published.


To The Editor,

Letters1As a member of the Board of Supervisors of Newlin Township, I would like to respond to your front page article of September 11, 2014 regarding a proposed horse ordinance in Newlin. The writer of the article failed to report on any of the facts that I presented at the start of the hearing on September 8, 2014 on the proposed ordinance. I would like to do so at this time.

First let me assure your readers that the sky isn’t falling in Newlin Township nor is the horse industry threatened by either the existing or proposed ordinance, both of which deal with commercial horse facilities. Neither ordinance applies to residents who have their own horses on their own property and who do not offer boarding and/or other commercial activities.

Under current zoning, all horse boarding facilities and riding schools are required to go to the Zoning Hearing Board for a “special exception” in order to operate their businesses, just like all other Township businesses require “special exception or conditional use” to operate. The current ordinance has been in effect since 1980 when the Township first adopted zoning. No applications for a “special exception” or request for a permit to operate a commercial horse facility have been received by the Township in the past.

Our Township is blessed to have many properties where horses graze in the fields and no authority of the Township has gone to these properties to inquire as to whom the horses belong or what kind of activities are happening on the properties. I don’t know of any township in the county that does not have regulations on commercial operations within their township and many have regulations on commercial equine activity especially in the less developed communities.

The issue surrounding the allowance of horse boarding and riding schools in Newlin has been on the regular monthly meeting agenda of the Board of Supervisors for 14 straight months (after a number of residents threatened a lawsuit to enforce the existing ordinance). In addition, there have been three joint work sessions with Newlin’s Planning Commission on the issue. The Planning Commission also had the issue on their agenda 14 straight months.

All meetings were open to the public and advertised in a local newspaper as required by the Sunshine Law. Minutes of the Board of Supervisors’ meetings are posted monthly on the Township web site. There was more than adequate opportunity for residents to comment and ask questions over 14 months and 31 advertised and open meetings and many have chosen to do so. Some have offered their own proposal for an ordinance.

The hiring of an independent municipal attorney and land planner was a decision made at a public meeting. The consultants met with the Board and the Planning Commission on two open and advertised occasions to offer suggestions on how to address the issue of over 30 unlawful, non-conforming horse facilities in the Township. Keep in mind that this represents a very small percentage of the approximately 500 residences in Newlin. Since the majority of the uses were boarding facilities that did not offer lessons or training, the consultants suggested making their use a “use by right” with some criteria that would have to be met and no special exception would be needed. 1bis would provide relief for the majority and especially the small land owner. The eight or nine larger businesses in the Township would be allowed to operate by “special exception” through the Zoning Hearing process.

The “3 and 2” referred to in your newspaper has to do with lot size and not how many acres have to be fenced on commercial equine facilities. Fenced pasture land just needs to be adequate for the number of horses. The current ordinance requires a minimum of 10 acres which again affects the small property owner, especially with “2 and 1” acres required to be fenced.

In reference to the “petition” mentioned in the paper’s article, the number quoted does not represent the population of Newlin. Quite to the contrary, the “petition” was passed over social media and a web site designed by a professional web designer/public relations consultant being employed by one of the larger commercial horse facilities in the Township who also happened to be quoted extensively in your article. Signers listed on the “petition” were from California, Oregon, New Jersey, Georgia, Texas, Colorado, Alaska and many other states. Many names were listed multiple times. Of the 1285 residents of Newlin, I have located only 60 or fewer residents who electronically signed the petition.

Janie H. Baird,


Newlin Township Board of Supervisors

   Send article as PDF   

Share this post:

Related Posts

Leave a Comment