Saturday, May 1, 2004

City sends horse out to pasture; family upset

By William Croyle
Enquirer contributor

Amy Ziegler, with her horse, Gold Meadow, who has been owned by her family for 14 years. Meadow was ordered out of Fort Mitchell and was sent to Walton.
The Cincinnati Enquirer/PATRICK REDDY
FORT MITCHELL - A two-year resident of the city was forced to leave town Friday for being in violation of zoning laws. Unless the Kentucky Supreme Court intervenes, he won't be allowed back.

Gold Meadow, a 23-year-old Arab-Trakehner gelding, was moved to a farm in Walton. He has lived on Orphanage Road in Fort Mitchell since early 2002 with his owners, Dave and Pat Ziegler, and their daughter, Amy.

The Zieglers boarded Gold Meadow in Union for 11 years before moving him to their home to care for his laminitis, an inflammation of the hooves that cuts off circulation.

They bought Meadow for Amy, 37, born with cerebral palsy. Despite her disorder, Amy has won numerous state equestrian competitions.

While the Zieglers' property has the look of a farm with a 130-year-old house, mature maple trees, 5 acres of land (2 of which they lease) and a white board fence, it's zoned residential. The city says that means no wild animals. Gold Meadow is considered wild.

"They thought they had a legal right to have the horse there," Mayor Tom Holocher said. "But it was council's position that it had to be moved."

The Zieglers lost their battle in Circuit Court last year and were turned down by the Court of Appeals in February. They've now appealed to the state Supreme Court.

Their argument is that they can have the horse under the Freedom to Farm Act. City Administrator Bill Goetz said that's only if the land is zoned as agricultural from the start.

Amy Ziegler spent Friday in the rain caring for Meadow, preparing for his move.

"I feel bad. We'll have to go back and forth a lot to take care of him," Amy said. "And horses are real sensitive. He knows he's leaving."

Her father said the matter isn't personal with anybody in the city government, but he doesn't know why they are making him do this.

"We have not had one complaint about it. Even the nuns from the children's home across the street bring the kids over to visit him," he said.

Holocher agreed there have been no complaints, though Goetz said there was one complaint last summer. Either way, Holocher said, he has to uphold the law.

"It's one of these things where you can't ignore the law," said Holocher. "I'm required, if I know of a violation, to try and correct it."


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