Is It Horse-Friendly Property? Know The Answer Before You Buy
A caller years ago, had a difficult legal problem. He recently bought a home and surrounding land, converted a back yard work shop into a horse stall, set up new pasture fencing and moved in his horse. His life-long dream of owning a horse property within his budget, he thought, had just been realized.
Within weeks, however, his dream seemed to shatter when he received a notice from the municipality that his horse and fencing had to go. What he had not known, until that point, is that his municipality’s zoning ordinances included set-back restrictions for fencing. The ordinance required that his fence lines be within a substantial distance from his property line. Unfortunately for him, his lot was very narrow and compliance with the ordinance would make his horse pasture the size of a dog run.
This problem could have been avoided with some advance planning. If you plan to buy property with the goal of stabling horses on it, get clear, reliable and preferably written answers to these questions before you sign documents:
- What is the property's zoning classification? Ask for details. Look further. Nowadays, this information is often online. Find out whether the classification for your property allows horses to be stabled on the property.
- Do local ordinances affect your plans to install new fencing? Look up the municipality’s fencing ordinances. You might be surprised to learn that they impact your fence types (PVC or electrified rope fencing might be forbidden) and locations.
- Will the property's size and configuration allow you to add new structures, such as another residence, manager's residence, new barns or an indoor arena while remaining in compliance with zoning ordinances and restrictions? If you intended to make these improvements, find out whether the community forbids them and how the municipality treats requests for variances and modifications.
- Does the municipality have manure disposal restrictions? Can you pile the manure? Can you spread it through the pastures or designated areas? Find out whether the municipality has restrictions that could impact your planned operations.
People sometimes buy horse property with the expectation of spending extra money on improvements such as new arenas, observation rooms, storage sheds or expanded barns. Legal expenses necessitated by resistance from the municipality rarely fall within the budget. By planning ahead before you make the commitment, you might be able to avoid problems before they occur.
Categories: Zoning & Land Use
Julie Fershtman is considered to be one of the nation's leading attorneys in the field of equine law. A frequent author and speaker on legal issues, she has written over 400 published articles, three books, and has lectured at seminars, conventions, and conferences in 29 states on issues involving law, liability, risk management, and insurance. For more information, please also visit www.fershtmanlaw.com and www.equinelaw.net, and www.equinelaw.info.View All Posts by Author ›
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Honors & Recognitions
Equine lawyer, Julie Fershtman, has received these prestigious equine industry awards from respected equine organizations:
"Excellence in the Advancement of Animal Law Award" - American Bar Association Tort Trial & Insurance Law Section Animal Law Committee
"Distinguished Service Award" - American Youth Horse Council
"Industry Service Award" - Michigan Equine Partnership
"Catalyst Award"- Michigan Horse Council
"Outstanding Achievement Award" - American Riding Instructors Association
"Partner in Safety Award" - American Riding Instructors Association
"Associate Service Award" - United Professional Horseman's Association
"National Partnership in Safety" Award" - Certified Horsemanship Association
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Defending equine/farm/equestrian industry professionals, businesses, and associations in personal injury claims and lawsuits.
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Representing and advising insurers on coverage and policy language as well as litigation;
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