LONDONDERRY — A Wiley Hill Road family will have to find bigger quarters for their horse after zoning officials told them their property wasn't big enough to pasture it there.
Jay Barrett of 107 Wiley Hill Road hoped the Zoning Board would grant him a variance to keep the horse on his 1.6-acre lot, but his request was denied at a meeting Jan. 16.
Officials unanimously denied the request.
The town's livestock ordinance requires homeowners to have 2 acres or more of land to keep animals like horses and chickens.
Barrett took ownership of the horse after its owner, a family friend's daughter, was injured in a car accident and later died from her injuries.
Having the horse proved to be a godsend, Barrett said. His 18-year-old son Jacob has cerebral palsy and the horse provided therapeutic benefits through riding.
Town officials first noticed the horse during a home inspection on a different matter after Barrett also sought a variance to build an apartment for his son's live-in caretaker. That variance also was denied.
A neighbor, Brendan Burns, complained in a letter to the town about the manure odor coming from Barrett's property.
That surprised Barrett.
"I talked to my neighbors and they said there was no problem," Barrett said. "Before the town had no problem, but I am surprised by this letter. We have yet to have a problem with the neighbors."
Barrett's daughter, Jillian, is studying animal science at the University of New Hampshire. She said the horse provides a great service to her handicapped brother and any manure problems and odor could be controlled.
"They are coming up with new ways of what to do with manure," she said. "We now give it to people for their gardens, as compost. We would make arrangements to have the manure removed off the property to give to people who would use it. And we can do our very best to fix the smell."
She lives with her father and brother, and said there are many horses already living in the neighborhood.
Barrett told officials his land abuts conservation land and that the rural setting is perfect for the horse.
"I don't see what the problem is," he said.
If the horse was taken from the property, Barrett said, taking his son to riding lessons elsewhere would cost a lot of money. Boarding the horse somewhere else would cost the family real dollars.
Michael Carroll lives next door to the Barrett family and said he has no problem with the horse living there.
"I love the horse, it's beautiful," he said.
Zoning Board member Neil Dunn said because people have complained about the smell, the case isn't an easy one.
"We had a letter from one neighbor with odor concerns," Dunn said. "Because people have odor issues we have to look out for the neighbors and their concerns. And, if it were a 2-acre parcel, we wouldn't be here."
Building inspector Richard Canuel said he would give Barrett ample time to find a solution and since it's winter, the odor problem shouldn't be a big issue.
"I don't want to see him lose his horse," Canuel said. "But I have the citizens of the town to be concerned about as well."