Deadline Sept. 7 for equestrian businesses to seek approval under transition program

The deadline is Sept. 7 for equestrian businesses to file for county approval under a transition program. The Larimer County Planning Department must receive applications by that date in order for businesses to qualify for the abbreviated approval process.

New land use regulations for horse boarding and training businesses went into effect last September, after more than a year of meetings and public input. When that monumental task was completed, the county commissioners agreed to help business owners make the transition to the new regulations.

Benefits of the transition program include an abbreviated review process, a reduced application fee, and no fees for transportation capital expansion, related to the traffic generated by an existing equestrian operation.

According to county planner Karin Madson, 13 equestrian businesses are moving through the transition program process. To use the transition program, a horse business must have been in operation as of Jan. 1, 2009.

After the September 7 deadline, any equestrian operation needing county approval will be reviewed under the new “scaled” review system. The level of review is determined by the size of the property, the number of horses boarded and the number of equestrian trainee lessons provided. Normal application fees and transportation capital expansion fees will apply.

The new regulations do not apply to non-profits such as 4-H and pony clubs, or to the private use of personal horses. Horse keeping that is accessory to the primary use of a property is a use-by-right. Accessory horse keeping may include horse boarding, horse training for a fee and riding lessons.

Changes in the land use code clearly differentiate between accessory horse keeping and equestrian operations. When accessory horse keeping exceeds the maximum number of allowed boarded horses and weekly trainee visits, based on the property size, it is defined as an equestrian operation.

Land use regulations, including those governing equestrian operations, are enforced on a complaint basis. The county follows a code compliance procedure when investigating possible violations.

For more information about the equestrian transition program, contact Madson at 970-498-7692 or go to http://larimer.org/horses/transition.pdf.

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