The need to discuss this was the result of a request by Patrick and
April Doolin, who would build a stable and house horses on their
property located just off North Union Street.
When the Doolins
purchased the property along Union and developed a new housing
addition facing Union, they held back approximately 23 acres on the
far side of the property for their own homestead.
The Doolins first approached the zoning board of appeals in late
October. They were asking then for ordinance variances that would
allow them to build a stable, and furthermore to make that stable
taller than is currently allowed in the city of Lincoln.
It was discovered less than an hour before the meeting began that
the zoning board of appeals did not have the authority to make a
rule on allowing the stable or horse barn. What they could do was
make the exception on the height requirement.
At that meeting there were several Union Street residents who
voiced their objections to having the stables on their street.
Patrick Doolin fielded questions from the group, and Thursday
evening he told the plan commission that there had been additional
discussions with the residents after that meeting. He said the group
had not been so much in objection to the construction of the stable
as they were concerned about how it would be done and how it would
affect the immediate neighborhood. Doolin said he believed the
residents of Union had their concerns addressed and were no longer
objecting to the construction of the barn.
At the beginning of the Thursday night meeting, building and
zoning officer John Lebegue explained that what was being sought was
a special use code for the R-1 residential districts.
He said there are very few areas in the city of Lincoln that are
coded R-1, so adding the use to that particular zone would aid in
limiting the number of people who would qualify to put horses on
their property. Lebegue said this was important because the city
wanted to be very careful not to open a door that would lead to a
bigger problem in the future.
He also told the group that he had contacted a few communities in
the Chicago area, where horse stables inside city limits are
commonplace. He said that in the community of Palos Hills, for
example, there are several, and they are not only accepted but
considered to be a unique and interesting aspect of that community.
However, Lebegue continually cautioned the commission throughout
the evening to be very specific in what they will allow, so as to
ward off future problems.
Patrick and April Doolin were on hand to discuss the plans for
their horse farm with the commission. They brought with them an
architectural rendering done by landscape architects Massie Massie &
Associates of Springfield, which outlined specifically how the horse
farm would be laid out.
Of the 23 acres, 18 will be used for their homestead. The layout
includes three pastures for rotation, an outdoor riding arena, the
stable, their home and a pond.
Patrick Doolin told the group that the horses he plans to have on
his property will be treated as family pets. To clarify that, he was
asked if there would be any breeding taking place on the farm
specifically for horse production, and he said there would not.
He did tell the group that it has been discussed that in the
adjoining subdivision, also owned by the Doolins, there might be
lots that are offered as part of an equestrian village. However, he
said those plans were not concrete.
The members of the commission discussed the size of the pastures
and whether there was enough space to accommodate a number of
horses. The Doolins are planning a six-stall barn, though they
currently own only one horse.
After some online research, one of the commission members said
the consensus seemed to be that there needed to be 1.5 acres of
pasture per horse on the property. April Doolin said the three
pasture areas would total approximately 10 acres, which would be
precisely right for six horses.
Cliff Marble of the commission wondered if the property was going
to be accessible for fire trucks and if the Doolins planned to use
city water and sewer.
Patrick Doolin said the homestead would probably have city water,
but not city sewer. He said the reason was the property was too far
from the main sewer line, so a septic system would be installed. He
expanded by saying a well will be dug for the horse barn, but if the
water is good, the household might use it also.
Marble wondered about the use of water in case of a fire, and
Doolin said that was the reason the plans for the farm include a
pond that water can be drawn from.
Marble asked about whether the road would support the weight of a
fire truck. Doolin said right now there is a construction road in
place, and it will support the weight of a fire truck. In addition,
he said when the homestead is finished, a paved surface will be laid
for the road, and it would be designed to handle the weight as well.
[to top of second column]
Marble also wondered about runoff from the pastures into
Brainard's Branch. The Doolins showed on their drawing that there
will be a natural grass barrier between their pastures and
Brainard's Branch. April Doolin said it would help filter the
runoff. In addition, she said with the rotation of pastures, there
won't be problems with grass destruction and mud. In addition,
manure in the pastures will be collected as needed.
It was also pointed out that currently the ground in question is
farmland, where there have in the past been applications of
fertilizers, herbicides and insecticides. With the establishment of
the pastures, none of those products will be used. It was also
brought up that Brainard's Branch is not a source of drinking water
Another point that was brought up questioned if there is a
100-year flood plain along the branch. April Doolin pointed out that
the land that will be used for the horse farm is above the flood
plain and the grass barrier is in it.
As the commission prepared to outline a recommendation for a
special use allowance, some wondered if this would open the door to
other kinds of animals. Lebegue said he didn't believe it should be
done in such a manner as to allow that. He told the commission the
amendment should be for horses only and that the parameters should
be very specific.
In the specifications for the special use classification, the
commission established the following:
Horses shall only
be allowed in residential areas zoned R-1, and the lot shall be
no less than 10 acres total.
The lot shall
include no less than 1.5 acres for each horse on the premises
and shall allow no more than six horses on any property.
The stable or
paddock building must be placed at least 300 feet from any
residential building on contiguous or neighboring lots.
No stable or
paddock shall be placed in the front yard of a dwelling or
within 15 feet of any property line.
No stable shall be
placed within 50 feet of the principal dwelling on the property.
Stables shall not
be placed in a location until it has been certified that waste
from the stables will not contaminate any water supply used for
human consumption and that the location will not allow offensive
or noxious animal waste, solid or liquids, to leach, drain or
run over the surface of any contiguous or neighboring lots.
Excrement shall be
removed from the property or placed in a contained composting
No business activities may be conducted
on the premises other than housing, boarding, grooming,
exercising and caring for the permitted number of horses.
Some other discussion that took place involved the composting.
April Doolin said a confined composting system would be used at the
farm and there would be no odor.
Another discussion took place regarding what would happen if the
Doolins had six horses on hand and one foaled, making seven. It was
decided to treat this as the local hospital does. At Abraham Lincoln
Memorial Hospital, a new baby does not count as a bed occupant. It
was determined that a foal would not count as an occupant until it
is weaned. Once the foal is weaned, then at least one animal would
have to leave the farm.
The Doolins also pointed out that they hope to have a riding
instructor come from out of town to give their kids riding lessons.
They talked about allowing the instructor to use their farm to
provide lessons for other riders in the Lincoln area. They wondered
if the way the special use was written would consider that as a
business on their property.
It was determined by the council that this would not qualify as a
business on the property, but they also added wording to the
business exemption paragraph to make it acceptable.
The commission approved the request for special use, but the
language must still be approved by the Lincoln City Council before
the special use can be granted. It is expected that the topic will
come up in a city committee workshop possibly as early as Tuesday
[By NILA SMITH]