The Putnam County Plan Commission voted 5-2 Thursday night to allow horses on property zoned medium residential.
The vote came after County Commissioners Attorney Scott Hoff asked the board to make a decision on whether horses can be kept on residential property.
Currently, since equestrian uses are not within the specific allowances for medium residential property -- or R2 -- horses cannot be legally kept on that land.
The issue arose as part of the board's discussion about whether to approve the 78-acre Kodiac Lake Subdivision on East CR 600 North near North CR 700 East. The subdivision would include several five-acre lots that are meant for residents who want to keep horses. The entire subdivision is zoned R2.
The commission originally wanted to wait until the next meeting to discuss the change, but when property owner Richard Burdick complained about having to wait another month before he can move forward with his project, plan commissioner Joe Mann suggested that the board take a vote on the issue Thursday night.
Both President Brian Gilmartin and member Ann DeLaChambre expressed concern about allowing horses on residential property.
DeLaChambre, who is also the Purdue Ag Extension Educator, suggested that best practices guidelines for raising horses included allowing no more than one horse per two acres of pasture.
Commissioners debated the fact that there are likely many property owners that are in violation of the current ban and there would probably be many in violation of the new restrictions, as well. After some debate, however, they resigned themselves to the fact that the new rules will likely go unenforced.
DeLaChambre, Mann and members Gene Beck, Larry Jones and Larry Parker all expressed reservation in wading into the issue of whether horses are livestock or pets.
However, in the end, only Beck and Jones voted against the measure.
After a hearty debate, Parker offered a motion to amend the light residential zoning restrictions to allow no more than one horse for every two acres of pasture.
With that amendment passed, the Plan Commission voted unanimously to approve the Kodiac Lake Subdivision.
The board also heard from Robert Webster, a farmer whose land borders the proposed subdivision, who expressed his concern that storm water and sewage runoff from the homes could flow onto his property. As a result, commissioners placed a proviso on their approval of the subdivision, stipulating that runoff from the drainage system must not pollute surround properties.