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Philadelphia residents say neighbor's horses violate zoning laws

Pontiac Avenue has some unusual occupants, and some Southwest Philadelphia residents are not happy about it. After multiple attempts to try and evict the unwanted occupants from the neighborhood, complaints about zoning laws are rising to accompany the case.

When a couple moved to Pontiac Avenue in 2001, they canvassed neighbors about any objections to letting them keep a horse. At the time, no one cared, but that was 10 years ago and before the couple owned five horses.

The request for a lone pet horse in a suburban-sized backyard has grown into a three-pony, two-horse stable that some community residents say violates zoning laws. Some area homeowners, including one who lived in the area long before the first horse appeared, filed complaints with the Philadelphia Department of Licenses and Inspections.

The complaints are not all about the land use. One long-time neighborhood resident, who has contacted five separate government agencies about the stable, says the manure odor has forced him and his wife to change how they live. He said the horse smell is so pervasive that entertaining guests or hanging laundry outdoors is impossible.

The city's L&I department did cite the horse owners with zoning permit violations in February. The horse owners said they were not upset and felt confident that a court would see the animals for what they are - pets.

The L&I notices accused the couple of having a stable in an area not zoned to allow one. It also alleged that the couple was operating a business without a license. The couple does operate a horse-rental business, but says it is run from a remote location in Chester County. The city agency inspected the property recently but found no horses. Soon after the case was dismissed in court, neighbors say all five horses suddenly reappeared on Pontiac Avenue.

Source: philly.com, "Backyard horses raise a stink with neighbors in Southwest Philadelphia," Alia Conley, Aug. 21, 2011

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