WALLOWA — A request for a variation on an ordinance prohibiting more than one horse per acre within city limits was denied Tuesday, July 21, by the Wallowa City Council.
Quinn Berry, who keeps three horses at his Holmes Street property of less than 2 acres, requested the variance on the city’s animal ordinance that requires 1 acre of pasture for every horse. The city had sent him a letter asking him to fix the problem after several neighbors complained about the horses.
Berry shared photographs of his place to demonstrate its cleanliness and invited council members to view it personally to emphasize that he was not in violation of the spirit of the ordinance enacted to prevent odors and other nuisances arising from too many animals in town.
But Mayor Gary Hulse said it can be a problem for neighbors.
“It becomes a nuisance to everybody downwind,” he said.
Councilman Joe Town agreed, saying the variance should not be granted.
“We’re not going to change the ordinance for one horse,” he said.
When the mayor asked if the council wanted to vote on a variance, no motion was made.
“I’m not willing to make a motion on a variance until he’s looked for other pastures,” Councilman Scott McCrae said.
Berry said that there are no stables in the city and he has not found any pastureland outside of town.
Scott McCrae said that if the council did approve such a variance, others may request one, too.
Berry mentioned 4-H and FFA project animals that are kept in town.
Councilman Oran McCrae said those animals are acceptable because they are in town for a limited period of time and gone by fair time.
Berry was left in a position of having to seek other accommodations for his horses, such as out-of-town pastures.
In another matter, the council officially hired Holly Goebel as the new director of the Wallowa City Library, replacing Kristin Tompeck, who submitted her letter of resignation. The letter was formally accepted by the council.
The council also read resolutions that would finalize the partial vacation of an alley in the Riverside Park Addition at 203 Riverside Ave. The move, which was discussed at the June council meeting, came at the request of property owner Ron Gay, who is planning to sell the land. He said a fence that has been in place 40 years is 16 feet onto his land. He has a contract to sell the property by Aug. 17. The council won’t meet again to finalize the alley vacation until Aug. 18.
Also, city Recorder Carolyn Harshfield announced that the city had paid off its sewer loan, which got a round of applause. The original 40-year loan for $1.31 million was the city’s contribution to a $2.06 million project to replace all the sewer lines in 1998-99. Town said it was refinanced five years ago to get a better interest rate and save the city money.