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“Setbacks” And Equine Fencing

“Jane,” a horse owner found her dream property. The house was just her size. Never before was a horse stabled on the property, but there was a storage barn that, Jane thought, could easily be converted into a horse barn, and the surrounding land could be fenced for pasture. Jane bought the property. Soon after, she built a stall in the barn, set up fencing, and moved in her horse.

Within a few weeks, however, a serious problem occurred. Jane received a notice from the city ordering her to remove her pasture fencing because it violated the local zoning ordinance. That ordinance required fences to be set back a specific distance from the property line. Adding to the problem, once Jane read the ordinance, she discovered that compliance with it would reduce her pasture to the size of a dog run. Her plans for a stable on her property were doomed.

Setback and fencing Ordinances

Local government ordinances and building codes often create requirements that prevent property owners from placing structures or fences from being located within a certain distance from a property line or another structure. These restrictions are commonly referred to as “setback ordinances.” Some municipal ordinances also limit types of fencing and fencing heights.

Suggestions to Avoid Problems

Anyone purchasing property with plans to build a horse facility would be wise to review the applicable zoning ordinances and restrictions BEFORE agreeing to make the purchase. In this example, Jane never checked any of them before purchasing the property.

People in Jane’s situation can apply for a variance seeking to allow the fencing, despite the law. There are no guarantees, however, that the municipality would approve. And although those who disagree with a municipality’s decision on a variance can file a lawsuit, the outcome is rarely certain. Careful, advance planning can make a difference. 

Categories: Zoning & Land Use

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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.

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Julie Fershtman, author of our popular and prolific Equine Law Blog, was interviewed by the State Bar of Michigan. The interview, which called Fershtman "Lawyer-Blogger," discussed our Equine Law Blog. We truly believe that this blog is the nation's most active blog serving the equine industry on equine law topics, and we thank you for visiting it. Read more here.

Honors & Recognitions

Equine lawyer, Julie Fershtman, has recieved 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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Handling breach of contract, fraud/ misrepresentation, commercial code, and other claims involving equine-related transactions including purchases/sales, leases, mare leases/foal transfers, and partnerships.

Litigating disputes in court or through alternative dispute resolution (arbitration, mediation, facilitation).

Defending equine/farm/equestrian industry professionals,  businesses, and associations in personal injury claims and lawsuits.

Drafting and negotiating contracts for boarding, training, sales, waivers/releases, leases, and numerous other equine-related transactions.

Representing and advising insurers on  coverage and policy language as well as litigation;

Advising equine industry clubs and associations regarding management, rules, bylaws, disputes, and regulations.

Representing some of the equine industry's top trainers, competitors, stables, and associations.

Counseling industry professionals, stable managers, and individual horse owners. 

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Did you know Julie Fershtman has spoken at the American Horse Council Annual Meeting, Equine Affaire, Midwest Horse Fair, Equitana USA, US Dressage Federation Annual Meeting, North American Riding for the Handicapped (now PATH International) Annual Meeting, American Morgan Horse Association Annual Meeting, American Paint Horse Association Annual Meeting, US Pony Clubs, Inc.'s Annual Meeting, All-American Quarter Horse Congress, American Youth Horse Council Annual Meeting, American Riding Instructors Association Annual Meeting, CHA Annual Meeting, and numerous others? Consider signing her up for your convention. Contact Julie.

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