Posted by: Patricia Salkin | November 23, 2010

ME Supreme Court Holds that Boarding of Horses Constitutes Animal Husbandry Under the Zoning Ordinance

Petitioner Golick appealed from the judgment of the Superior Court, vacating the Code Enforcement Officer’s (CEO) decision issuing them a building permit for a horse barn and indoor riding arena. Golick planned to use the building to board others’ horses and provide an indoor riding arena to exercise the horses. Despite an abutting land owners (Rudolph) objection to Golick’s request, the CEO issued a building permit that included a prohibition on the use of the facility for horse shows or public riding lessons. Rudolph appealed the CEO’s decision to the Zoning Board which upheld the decision as a permitted use because the relevant ordinance defined “animal husbandry” as the “keeping of any domesticated animals other than household pets” and further that nothing in the Ordinance prohibited a property owner engaged in the permitted use of animal husbandry from deriving income from that use. On appeal, however, the Superior Court reversed determining that the use more closely constituted commercial recreation than animal husbandry and thus was a prohibited activity. 

The Supreme Court, in reviewing the Board’s decision deference, found that in strictly construing the ordinance language, there existed no prohibition on earning income from the keeping of others’ domesticated animals. Further, the Court found that the Board initially considered the fact that Golick would earn money from his horse boarding but the Board found that earning profit alone did not make Golick’s proposal that of “commercial recreation.” Additionally, the Board also approved the permit restrictions that barred recreational uses by the public such as horse shows. As a result, the Court concluded the Board’s findings were not clearly erroneous and did not err in concluding that boarding horses constitutes “animal husbandry.” 

Rudolph v Golick, 2010 WL 4183685 (Me 10/26/2010) 

The opinion can be accessed at:

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