Horse boarding still a hot-button issue in Barrington Hills

Most Barrington Hills village board members expected to end a long-running public debate Monday by letting stand regulations that allow commercial horse boarding as a home business.

But the board was inundated by several angry residents calling for better clarification of what those regulations are.

And even though regulating the number of horses allowed per acre wasn’t something a recently proposed change to the village code contemplated, some of the residents suggested such restrictions would be welcome.

“We can’t trust and rely that people will be responsible,” resident James O’Donnell said.

Another resident, Kari Magnus, said she’d been negatively affected by having horse owners as neighbors at two different locations in the village over the years.

In one case a horse got loose onto Bateman Road; in another, her neighbor was burning barn waste.

Village President Robert Abboud said in many of the horse complaints he’s heard, it turned out that an existing law was being broken — such as the burning of barn waste that Magnus cited.

The whole issue of horse boarding — specifically as a business — was brought to the forefront in recent years because of resident Jim Drury’s complaints that the neighboring Oakwood Farms commercially boards as many as 60 horses in a barn near his property line.

This particular business use is not invisible as it should be, Drury claims, because of the number of nonresidents driving on his road to visit their horses next door.

A village inspector has stated that Oakwood Farms meets the standards of a home occupation business in Barrington Hills. And Abboud has said it’s an unrealistic standard for any neighbor to have zero impact on those around him or her.

Resident David Stieper has suggested uneven treatment of Oakwood Farms by the village — first spending $200,000 to legally fight commercial horse boarding there and now defending it.

Abboud said the village’s earlier fight with Oakwood Farms was over its prior claims that commercial horse boarding was an agricultural use that could not be regulated by the village.

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