Press-Republican

October 4, 2013

Horse, travel trailers issues in Champlain

By DAN HEATH Press-Republican
Press-Republican

---- — CHAMPLAIN — Horses and travel trailers dominated a public hearing on a draft amended zoning code for the Town of Champlain earlier this week.

Approximately 25 people attended the session, which was held at the Champlain Town Office Complex. Town Supervisor Larry Barcomb asked comments be limited to five minutes.

Previously, the only code that concerned keeping of animals stated “no pigs or fowl shall be kept within 200 feet of any pre-existing neighboring residential property line except on land within an Agricultural District established by the Clinton County Legislature pursuant to the New York State Agricultural and Markets Law.”

The proposed amendment includes language that covers large animals, including horses and sheep, that states large farm animals may be kept for private or commercial use within any district as long as there is a minimum of 3 acres for the first animal and a half acre for each additional one.

Also, the animals must be housed and manure stored at least 100 feet from any property line. 

Deidre Duffina said she has five horses but only 3 acres of property, so there is no way she could fence in enough space to meet the proposed requirements. She does use her father-in-law’s property next door for extra pasture.

“Are you telling me I have to sell four of these horses? That’s not going to happen,” she said.

GRANDFATHERED IN?

Sam Trombley owns Win, Place and Show Farm on Hayford Road, which offers horse boarding, breeding, riding lessons and training. He said he can have anywhere from 20 to 30 horses at a time, but not all of them will remain on the farm.

Trombley said as long as he’s paying his taxes, he should be allowed to operate his business as he sees fit.

”I think somebody has way too much time on their hands,” he said.

Richard Riggs also has horses on his property. He said as long as someone has an attending veterinarian who examines the animals a couple of times a year and deems them healthy, why would you need to have as much land as in the proposed amendment.

Larry Sorrell said he also has a horse farm. He asked if existing farms could be grandfathered in.

Town Attorney William Favreau said if a property is in compliance with the present zoning at the time the codes is changed, it would usually be grandfathered in.

PERMIT PROPOSED

For travel trailers, the present zoning ordinance states no travel trailer located outside a travel-trailer park can be connected to water, sewer or electrical utilities except for a temporary 15-day period. 

In addition, a travel trailer cannot be inhabited or used for sleeping or eating quarters for more than 15 days per year.

The third provision states travel trailers cannot be stored on a property, except that of the owner, and with an existing residential structure on that property.

The draft zoning law says a travel trailer can be inhabited only if a permit is received from the town. It would be valid for a maximum of 120 days, and only one permit per parcel could be granted per year.

No fee for the permit was established with the draft version of the law.

After 120 days, according to the proposed ordinance, the trailer must be removed from the property for a minimum of 245 days before another permit can be obtained.

The trailer must be connected to adequate water, sewer and electrical service while occupied. The Clinton County Health Department is responsible for certification of wastewater systems, but doesn’t regulate individual water supplies.

’JUST NOT RIGHT’

Jerry Lapan said he lives in Rouses Point but has limited space at his home to store boats, cars and trailers. He uses a property in the Town of Champlain for that purpose and questioned why he would no longer be allowed to store his travel trailer there even if he has no plans to occupy it there.

Jeff Sterling said “it’s just not right” that he would have to get a permit to stay in his own trailer on his own property for even just one night and have to move it after 120 days. He said most modern travel trailers are self-equipped for water and sewer, so he doesn’t understand the need for those connections.

John Southwick has a travel trailer on land he owns on Point au Fer Road. It is connected to water and a septic system.

He asked what it would take to have it classified as a camp or mobile home, such as removing the wheels or putting it on a foundation. He was told it would be classified as a single-wide manufactured home if it was longer than 40 feet.

Codes Enforcement Office Michael Tetreault said that would require compliance with building codes, such as a need for a foundation.

Favreau said enforcement actions would generally be generated by complaints, after which Tetreault would investigate.

NEXT STEP

The draft amended zoning code was put together by a temporary Zoning Amendment Advisory Committee appointed for the purpose in June 2012 by the Town Council. Eleven meetings, all open to the public, were held to gather input.

The draft has been found acceptable by the zoning and planning boards that serve the town, as well as the Clinton County Planning Board.

At Tuesday’s meeting, Barcomb said the public comments were recorded and will be reviewed by the Zoning Amendment Advisory Committee. There will have to be another public hearing if significant changes are made to the draft amendment.

Otherwise, it will be up for a vote by the Town Council at a future meeting.

The draft amendment is available on the town’s website, www.townofchamplain-ny.com.

Email Dan Heath:dheath@pressrepublican.com