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Coweta family plans appeal of horse decision

BY TIM STANLEY - Tulsa World Published: May 26, 2009
COWETA — The Smiths no longer see their miniature horse when they look through the back window.

After a warning from the city that their horse — a birthday gift to their granddaughter, Karma — violates city rules, Vickie and Larry Smith decided to move it to a friend’s farm several miles away.

Annie the horse had lived quietly in the Smiths’ residential back yard since Karma’s birthday two years ago. Karma, now 6, lives with the Smiths, who are her legal guardians.

"When we walk out and she is not there, it hurts,” Vickie Smith said. "Many people have stopped by while I was out in the yard to say how sorry they are.”

"Karma cried the day we moved Annie,” she said.

Smith said they had had no problems for two years. But in April, a neighbor complained about the smell, city officials say.

‘Appropriate action’
City Manager Steve Whitlock said officials were not aware the miniature horse was there before the complaint.

"Once we were notified, we took appropriate action,” Whitlock said. "It’s obviously contrary to zoning and city ordinance. I’m sorry they are upset. But you cannot have a horse in a residential subdivision.”

A Broken Arrow resident recently fought his city over a miniature horse, and he won.

In that case, which wrapped up in February, a municipal jury agreed with resident Greg Copeland, who argued the city ordinance wasn’t clear on what animals qualified as "household pets” and that his miniature horse could not be ruled out.

The Coweta ordinance, however, specifically forbids the keeping of horses within the city limits except on properties zoned for agricultural use.

Smith, who plans to appeal to the city’s board of adjustment, said Annie should not be considered a full-size horse.

If the city wants to forbid miniature horses, the ordinance should state so clearly, he said.

Smith says agricultural zoning would be more appropriate for the neighborhood, since it is in a rural area just inside the city limits, across the street from county pastureland where cattle graze.

The subdivision doesn’t meet the agricultural category’s minimum 2-acre lot size, officials said.

‘Too many little rules’
Smith erected a sign in the front yard to express his disenchantment: "The Coweta City Council broke a 6-year-old’s heart and made her pet pony move.”

The sign eventually had to go, too, though.


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