Farmington resident Patrick Thomas' mission to keep miniature horses on his property took another step forward Monday.
Planning commissioners voted 5-1, after a short public hearing, to approve a proposed ordinance that would allow the animals on lots of 2 acres or larger. Two horses would be allowed on a 2-acre lot and one additional horse for each additional full acre.
Thomas has been interested in creating an exception for the smaller horses since officials amended the city's animal ordinance earlier this year. Farmington city council members are expected to take up the ordinance at their Nov. 19 meeting.
Thomas' property on Brookdale is one of just four in the city that would be affected by the ordinance, Community and Economic Development Director Kevin Christiansen said.
Thomas was the only person to speak during a public hearing. He said his only concern was a proposed 175-foot setback required for structures to house the animals, because his backyard extends only 70-80 feet beyond his home before dropping off. Planning commissioner Dave Gronbach pointed out the setback applies to buildings on neighboring properties.
Planning commissioner Jeffrey Scott asked code enforcement officer John Koncsol whether he was comfortable with the ordinance section that spells out how to store animal food and dispose of manure.
"I think the existing ordinances are strong enough," Koncsol said, adding complaints about possible water contamination and other nuisance issues would be considered on a "case by case" basis. City manager Vince Pastue said other city ordinances address run-off to neighboring properties and waterways.
Planning commissioner Jill Babcock, who voted against the proposed ordinance, said after the meeting that she did so because this created a single, narrow exception within the city's animal ordinance.
"It has nothing to do with horses," she said. "I don't like piecemeal. I think every single time you piecemeal, you ruin the integrity of the existing ordinance or statute."