Posted by: Patricia Salkin | July 11, 2014

Fed. Dist court in OH Holds that Keeping of a Miniature Horse was not a Reasonable Accommodation in a Residential Zone

Defendant City of Blue Ash has enacted zoning laws regulating respective land uses throughout the City. Plaintiff Anderson lives in an area zoned R–3 Residential, which is strictly for residential purposes. The Zoning Code specifically lists the land uses that are permitted in each district. If a use is not listed, then it is prohibited. Section 505.21 of the Blue Ash Codified Ordinance prohibits sheltering, maintaining, keeping, or harboring of “farm” animals on residential property, including miniature horses, alpacas, and pigs. However, this Ordinance does not apply to animals otherwise specifically permitted by federal law. C.A.’s physician, Dr. Ron Levin, recommended and prescribed hippotherapy for Plaintiff C.A and Plaintiff Anderson obtained a miniature horse for Plaintiff C.A.’s hippotherapy in 2010. Health inspectors walked around the property and noticed an odor by the back fence. As they peeked through the fence, they saw the miniature horse, alpaca, and a pig. Plaintiff Anderson was cited for two violations of the farm animal ordinance, specifically for keeping a miniature horse and an alpaca at her residence. Anderson filed a Housing Discrimination Charge with the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Ohio Civil Rights Commission (“OCRC”), alleging that she and Plaintiff C.A. are being discriminated against on the basis of her daughter’s disability under Section 804(f) of Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, as amended by the Fair Housing Act of 1988 (“FHA”).

The court discussed that the presence of these farm animals potentially creates a threat to the health and safety of the neighboring individuals, as well as the horse itself. The smell and waste created by the horse potentially creates a direct threat to the health and safety of Defendant’s citizens. Furthermore, the miniature horse was not housebroken and the property could not fully accommodate the needs of the horse. Allowing the horse could also reduce the property value and community aesthetics of this residential area. As such, the accommodation was not reasonable and the Defendant’s motion for summary judgment was granted.

Anderson v City of Blue Ash, 2014 WL 3102326 (SD OH 7/7/2014)

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