Albemarle gives update to therapeutic counseling service

Published 2:30 pm Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Albemarle City Council issued a ruling Monday night to one business impacted by recent changes to the Animals and Fowl section of an Albemarle ordinance.

Since the city is awaiting receipt of a legal opinion from the UNC School of Government on adopted changes regarding the keeping of horses in the city limits, a public hearing was not held as scheduled.

Creative Counseling, on West Main Street, which keeps two horses for therapy purposes, has been accused by nearby homeowners of creating a smell and flies. It was directly affected by the city’s ordinance change in August.

“Although we have not heard from the School of Government, we did speak with the North Carolina League of Municipalities,” Mayor Ronnie Michael said.

Since Creative Counseling was keeping horses legally prior to the changes, they are allowed to continue long as they continue operation at the same level as before and do not violate nuisance provisions, Michael said.

Nuisance provisions limit the proximity of the horse pasture to homes, requiring a buffer of at least 200 feet. In addition, smells produced by the horses must be abated.

Laura Harbeson, representing Creative Counseling Services, said since the Sept. 3 meeting she has taken care to remove horse waste daily, but expressed concern with relocating the pasture fence.

“How long will we have to move the fence?” she said. “Will it be up to us to measure and determine where it should be moved?”

The Council voted to grant Creative Counseling 60 days to relocate the fence. Michael said Planning and Development Services staff will assist with relocating the fence line.

Toby Thorpe is a freelance contributor for The Stanly News & Press.