Letter to the editor: ‘Alarming things are affecting the horse community’

Clark County Citizens United President Susan Rasmussen offers organizations’ position on county Comprehensive Growth Plan

Susan Rasmussen
Susan Rasmussen

Alarming things are affecting the horse community.  These items are contained in the Equine Plan of the Rural Chapter, Clark County Comprehensive Growth Plan.  The items appear innocent enough, but they easily lead to widespread changes, regulations, and expensive costs for horse owners and equine facilities.  The changes do nothing to protect established facilities, nor encourage new growth for this hearty community. What does the county hope to gain by imposing restrictive regulations, high permitting fees and added costs?

If these rural businesses are forced to shutter their doors, what will be the economic impacts to a chosen lifestyle and the county? Will feed and farm stores, hay suppliers, saddle and tack retailers, farriers, veterinarians,  4-H youth development programs, school equestrian teams, equestrian scholarship programs, horse summer camps, therapeutic and rehabilitative hippotherapy, and equine events have to close?  All support the county’s economic base and the well-being of rural communities. What will be the consequences of reduced property values and property tax revenue? The county must consider the cultural, social, and economic voids created, if even one facility is forced to close due to regulations.  The question is, why require this? There are substantial zoning rules that already regulate land-use activities.

The Growth Management Act states rural character must be defined.  It is foremost a description of how local people live and view their neighborhoods.  The character is unique to every region because it has been honed by cultural practices.  Horses have traditionally been part of our rural home sites, and exemplifies the unique blend of rural and residential interests.  Clark County has yet to write a proper definition of our unique rural character and culture, as required by law. If the county had an accurate definition, one could easily see how the horse community is a keystone of the county’s rural character, with over 30,000 horses.   County planners should write comprehensive growth plans with an eye on what’s important to rural culture, and create enhancements, vs. deterrents. Surely they don’t want to single out a particular vital community and cause harm, or do they?

How does the county’s Equine Plan accommodate the growth needs of this group and provide protections for those wishing to carry on this chosen lifestyle? Enacting onerous policies, further limits citizen’s abilities to have rural homes and equine businesses, while insulting rural culture. It is not the goal of the GMA to stop rural lifestyles and deny landowner’s reasonable and proper use of their land and structures.  Clark County Citizens United, Inc. suggests the county councilors delete Clark County Code, 40.260.040, Equestrian Plan, and formally recognize the value of rural communities, their culture and their character, which includes horses.

Susan Rasmussen, president
Clark County Citizens United

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