Barrington Hills residents address horse boarding

About 200 concerned Barrington Hills residents packed the multipurpose room of Countryside Elementary School Monday night for a hearing on a proposed change to the village code regarding commercial horse boarding.

With only a few exceptions, people who spoke generally looked with disfavor on the amendment that would allow commercial horse boarding as a home occupation business if machinery were operated and nonresidents were on site only between the hours of 6 a.m. and 8 p.m.

But while some critics opposed the change on the basis that it lowered land-use standards in the largely residential village, others argued that Barrington Hills' current zoning was neither broken nor in need of fixing.

Some speakers, however, seemed confused about what the amendment would actually change. They expressed their belief that adoption of the amendment would allow unlimited numbers of horses to overwhelm particular properties — the minimum size of which is five acres in Barrington Hills.

But zoning board Chairwoman Judith Freeman and Village Attorney Douglas Wambach said the amendment only addresses the commercial aspect of boarding horses on residential property. The village has never regulated the number of horses that can be kept on a property and neither does the proposed amendment, they said.

One resident said he keeps four horses and two ponies of his own on his five-acre lot and preferred the village not get involved with such regulation of numbers.

The current issue, however, arose largely from a dispute between resident Jim Drury and his neighbors, Benjamin and Cathleen LeCompte, who own Oakwood Farms where up to 60 horses can be commercially boarded in the barn near Drury's property line. The entire Oakwood Farms is a few hundred acres in size.

Though village inspectors have testified that the LeComptes' operation is no burden to neighbors, Drury disagrees.

“I live next door to the LeCompte operation. Nobody else does,” he said.

The zoning board will deliberate on its recommendation for or against the amendment at its next meeting on July 16.

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