Zoning is very important concept for horse community members to understand, because it effects how and where you may keep your horses, and even how they can be used within a community.
by Christine Hughes, AICP
Ultimately, the ongoing ability to use, own, and access equine lands is tied to how well a community plans for and accommodates growth and change. The equine land owner must understand many considerations – urban and rural— to ensure that equine and agricultural open lands are protected for future generations. The decisions made at the local and regional levels about land use, public services, infrastructure, and transportation, will help determine how, or if, open land and horse-friendly uses are allowed to thrive.
When considering equine land uses, consider first the local zoning code, but keep in mind that other local regulations may also need to be taken into account. Many communities have separate regulations for stormwater, animals, business operations, and other aspects of owning and enjoying horses.
It is important to check with the local planning office to confirm accurate information regarding zoning, future land uses and long-range plans, and changing regulations. Before committing to the purchase, lease or other use of a horse property, or if a property comes up for rezoning, verify with the local planning office what is allowed. For example, if horses are allowed, but the fencing setbacks preclude a useful pasture, it is best to find out before a fence goes up!
Many states have regulations that affect how and if local governments can regulate certain uses through zoning. Beyond zoning, state-level regulations may also impact animal keeping and other equine-related land uses. It is important to remember that zoning maps and zoning designation can change and the zoning ordinance itself can change.
It is up to all of us to ensure the preservation of and access to equine lands!
Published December 2017
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