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Committee to take on issue of size exemptions for horse arenas PDF Print E-mail
Written by JOHN MORTON   
Wednesday, 19 July 2017 18:29

Town’s current limit regarding outbuildings is 2,500 square feet

With a persistent resident who wants to build a large indoor horse-riding arena watching its every move, the Town of Saukville has decided to create a committee to examine whether to alter its code exclusive to the topic of horse riding and allow structures that house it to exceed the current 2,500-square-foot size limit on all outbuildings.
Dave Elsila, whose request for a conditional-use permit to build a 6,000-square-foot arena that would architecturally match a historic barn on his property was denied in May, has since petitioned the town to make an exception. Since then, the concept of catering to horses in such a manner has received public acknowledgement from some town leaders that it may very well fit in with the town’s desire to maintain a rural landscape.
Elsila, who owns about seven acres on Highway I, has told town officials there are other residents besides him who want to be able to give their horses an area for exercise during the winter months. He said he knows of some residents who have passed on residence in the town, or have even left the town, because of the 2,500-square-foot outbuilding size restriction.
The Town Board has asked the Plan Commission to study the idea, and at the commission’s July 11 meeting its members agreed to form a special committee to do so. The committee will next discuss parameters that would manage such a move, if indeed it recommends a change to the Town Board.
At the July 11 meeting, commission member Tom Ravn reaffirmed the town’s desire to not allow for large buildings that look industrial, such as a storage shed, but instead replicates structures such as a barn.
Commission member Kevin Kimmes acknowledged that horses are important in the community, but stressed that some neighbors may not feel the same. Therefore, the commission began to list concerns to be addressed moving forward, including lighting, manure management, setbacks, total size and height, and the need to screen such buildings with landscaping.
All members agreed that any approval would be subject to a resident obtaining a conditional-use permit, so each application would be examined on a case-by-case basis.
“An owner would have to stipulate the building is for riding only,” commission member Mike Denzien said.
Kimmes worried about the sale of a property that was given permission for a large riding arena.
“It’s been sold, and now the new owners have a nice storage facility,” he said.
Ravn said the conditional-use permit process would protect against that scenario, noting a seller would need to notify buyers of the structure’s limited use.
Elsila said sellers would actually benefit from that.
“It would allow you to market something unique that buyers with horses would be looking for,” he said. “This type of thing is not always easy to find but is often desired.”
Another concern commission members voiced was the importance of not allowing large riding arenas to transition into commercial enterprises, where people could bring in their horses for riding or where boarding could occur. It would be restricted to the property owner’s recreational riding.
Setbacks will also likely be a topic on the front burner. Currently, properties the size of Elsila’s fall under an A-5 designation, which the town considers residential, and the setback for buildings from property lines is 30 feet.
Ravn envisioned something closer to 100 feet, if not more.
“If something like this is 100 feet off my bedroom, is that encroaching?” he asked. “I’d think setbacks would have to be increased.”
No time limit has been set for the committee’s recommendation to the board. A change in code or issuance of a conditional-use permit both require a public hearing and approval by majority vote of the Town Board. Public hearings regarding conditional-use permit requests also require written notice be sent to all residents within a half-mile of the subject property.  
Meanwhile, property owners will still not be allowed to have buildings cover more than 5% of their land, per town code. An adjustment to that limitation is not up for consideration.

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