Editor’s note: As we prepared to go to press we received the following unedited letter from the Newlin Township Supervisors.
The Newlin Township Board of Supervisors seeks to respond to newspaper articles and editorial comments that incorrectly cite the facts concerning the adoption of Ordinance 2014-01. This Ordinance amended the Newlin Township Zoning Ordinance by adding a use for a “commercial equine activity” and clarifying the regulations applicable to equestrian boarding when conducted as an accessory use to a residential dwelling. In response to a resident complaint about a potential new boarding facility in the Township, the Board retained special counsel, MaryAnn Rossi, Esquire, from MacElree Harvey, and a land planner, Ray Ott, from the West Chester based planning firm to craft amendments to the Zoning Ordinance that are authorized by the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code and adhere to state and federal laws. The Township sought the expert advice on appropriate zoning amendments that allowed the boarding of horses in the Township as an incidental and secondary use to a residential dwelling, as well as a separate principle commercial use of land. The amendment was designed to allow the boarding of horses and other equestrian activities with reasonable regulations that are aimed at protecting neighboring property owners and preserving environmentally sensitive natural resources. The Board sought input from its Planning Commission, five Newlin residents, who unanimously recommended that the Ordinance be adopted. Contrary to exaggerated estimates that the Board spent $100,000 in legal fees to adopt the Ordinance, the Township incurred approximately $25,000 over the course of eighteen months.
Newlin’s Ordinance is similar and even less restrictive than many other municipal zoning ordinances in Chester County that seek to regulate commercial equine operations. The Ordinance does not restrict a normal agricultural operation as defined in the Right to Farm Act, but instead imposes reasonable and achievable regulations on the boarding of horses that are aimed at the protection of the public health, safety and welfare.
After the Ordinance was adopted, eight applications have been filed with the Zoning Hearing Board and all eight applicants have been granted the necessary zoning permit to allow the operation to continue in compliance with the Ordinance.
The Township’s Solicitor has scheduled a meeting with the Attorney General for early January where the Board hopes to articulate its legal interpretation of the relevant state and federal laws cited in the Attorney General’s letter and discuss an acceptable resolution to avoid future legal challenge.
Newlin Township Board of Supervisors