November 2014 Issue - page 4

Page 4
November 2014
out a mass mailing to the township
residents?” Lisa Thomas won-
dered. She has been the unofficial
spokesperson for the equine group,
and took issue with the supervisors’
assertions that people simply didn’t
seem interested in the ordinance
and that they don’t understand it.
She said that many of the people
who own small farms in the area
were stunned to find out what was
happening. She said that legal ads
placed in newspapers that nobody
reads may be the letter of the law,
but they do not fulfill its spirit.
“How can they say that people
don’t get it? There has not been
appropriate education. And there
has not been appropriate publishing
of this,” she said.
The supervisors described
a process in which many people
contributed opinions and ex-
pertise. “First off, we are not an
anti-horse township,” Assistant
Supervisor Bill Kelsall explained.
“We are not in any way against
small businesses. We are pro small
businesses. This is an attempt to
simplify our current ordinance. It
was not written by any one person
here, it was written by about 11
people.” It’s unclear who those
11 people were, but they were
apparently not at the meeting, nor
was the township’s attorney.
Even as he defended the ordi-
nance though, Kelsall equivocated
on some of its provisions, such as
the so-called three and two rule.
“I personally am going to leave it
open for later as to whether or not
that will be a special exception. I
don’t think that’s super important
at this time.” He said he believed
some people would have trouble
meeting that requirement. He also
said that the ordinance’s restric-
tions on horse shows should be
viewed with flexibility. Kelsall
by Suzanne Bush
Was it the end of the contro-
versy, or the beginning of a new
chapter? When the Newlin Town-
ship (Chester County, PA) Board of
Supervisors voted unanimously on
October 13 to adopt an ordinance
regulating commercial equine
operations, the jam-packed room
erupted in a chorus of “Shame
on you! Shame!” The ordinance
requires any commercial equine
facility to have a minimum of
three acres for the first horse on the
property and two acres for each
additional horse (the three and two
rule). Further, any facility hosting
an event, such as a horse show,
must provide off-street parking;
and outdoor commercial activities
will be limited to daylight hours.
The ordinance applies to all
equine facilities, except private
farms not providing lessons,
boarding or training. It also does
not apply to Pony Club or the
Cheshire Hunt, both of which
were operating in the area prior
to 1980. A heated debate has con-
sumed the equine community and
its supporters for months now,
since the supervisors began pub-
lic discussion of the ordinance.
Janie Baird, who chairs the
Board of Supervisors, began the
meeting with a summary of the
many meetings that had preceded
the vote, and reminded the crowd
that she, too, owns and rides
horses. “I’ve had my own horses
for the past 34 years, 28 years in
The Newlin Township Board of Supervisors. Left to right: Bob
Pearsal, Bill Kelsall, Janie Baird.
Newlin Township Ordinance Passes, Equestrians Mull Options
Newlin Township. I am the care-
giver, the stall mucker, the nurse
and the lover of horses,” she said.
“Over the past 15 months I have
spent countless hours on this is-
sue.” She said that she had walked
most of the roads in the township,
looking for farms and trying to
speak to every horse farm owner.
She reiterated that the board is not
targeting the community’s horse
farms. Instead they’re trying to
protect the township from poten-
tial future problems.
“The proposed ordinance has
been proposed to create a mecha-
nism to deal with less-than-desir-
able operations that may occur in
the future,” she said. “Horse own-
ers generally take good care of
their land; however some others
may come along who do not have
the same protective resolve that
we do and we need to protect the
land for the future of Newlin.”
Newlin Township, just thirty
miles from Philadelphia, is very
rural, with just 500 households
and more than half of its 7700
acres in preservation. It is home
to Olympic riders of many dis-
ciplines from across the globe,
top breeders and trainers and the
infrastructure to support them.
Grilled by Residents,
Supervisors Defend Actions
Baird’s contention that every-
one with a stake in this matter had
numerous opportunities to object
is itself part of the debate. “Why
would they not be obligated to send
did not want to comment on the
ordinance before residents had a
chance to speak, but once he did
begin speaking, he almost seemed
on the verge of voting against it. “I
noticed in going over the ordi-
nance—we don’t have to modify
this tonight—small horse events,
I’m going to say, for example,
pick a small property. They offer
4H to have a small horse show.
I think we should modify that so
they don’t need a zoning hearing.”
Bob Pearsal, the third super-
visor on the board, somewhat de-
fensively remarked that there were
more residents in the township than
the overflow crowd at the meeting.
“There’s about 900 residents that
are not here tonight that vote,”
he said. “So what I call the silent
majority, okay? They didn’t come
out here. They voted for the board
of supervisors to do things for them
on behalf of them for the best inter-
ests of the township for the greater
good of this township.” There were
audible groans from the audience,
but he continued. “They’re home
watching Monday Night Football,
reading a book, writing a letter to
somebody, maybe studying for
an exam…whatever the case may
be. They’re not here because they
believe in the system, they believe
the system works.”
It could not have been easy
to sit before a group of polite but
obviously unhappy residents,
so it was not surprising that the
(Continued on page 32)
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