Amy Cunningham
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The saga of Blazer the pony has quietly come to an end following a unanimous decision by the Gardner Planning Commission at Tuesday evening’s meeting.
The miniature horse’s owners must find a new home for their pet.
Blazer became the source of controversy for residents living in the Parma subdivision when rising spring temperatures stirred up odors causing neighbors to cry afoul. For five months the horse resided in the back yard of Gardner residents Ryan and Flower Souter’s home. A Christmas gift for the couple’s children, Ryan Souter sought guidance from the City of Gardner when he first brought the horse home.
According to Interim City Administrator Melissa Mundt, when Souter contacted the city he was told to obtain a permit from animal control, however officials failed to mention that the couple would also need to seek permission of the Planning Commission. Souter obtained permission from animal control, who placed an odor condition on the permit, but still didn’t realize he needed to go before the Planning Commission.
On the first hot day of the year Blazer’s odor drew the ire of neighbor Jackie Gonzalez who reported the animal to city officials. Mundt says this was the first time the governing body learned of the horse’s existence.
“I called animal control to find out what is going on,” Gonzalez told commissioners at the meeting.
During the meeting Gonzalez wondered how having a horse in the neighborhood might affect home values. She also worried that, if officials allowed Blazer to stay put in the neighborhood, neighbors might be encouraged to move other farm animals in.
Four other Parma residents spoke in support of Gonzalez at the meeting. They raised concerns about the horse’s safety, the size of the lot where the horse was living, who would monitor the cleanliness of the Souter’s yard and protecting home values.
“We have a house we invested in,” argued Sharon
Evans, “We don’t need barnyard animals (in the neighborhood)…That’s not a good thing, I protest this.”
Blazer’s owner Ryan Souter thanked neighbors for speaking at the commission meeting. He said he wished they would have approached him directly with their concerns rather than taking them to the city.
“I wish it would have been brought up to me, I could have done something about it,” Souter said at the meeting.
Because the permit was revoked by animal control, Souter assured the meeting’s attendees that the horse was living on a farm outside of town and was being well-cared for.
Commissioner Greg Godwin said he didn’t see any way commissioners could rule in favor of letting the animal stay while balancing the rights of neighbors.
“I don’t think there is any way we could protect the interests of the neighboring property owners,” he said.
Other commissioners agreed.
In other business commissioners:
• considered rezoning property at Stone Creek Business Center from M-1, restricted industrial district to C-2, general business district.
Amy Kynard, planner for the city, recommended approval
• initiated amendments to Chapter 18.170 of zoning regulations in order to provide more detailed regulations for permanent and temporary signs.