Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Manure dispute threatens Milton horse farms

Cynthia Chandlee, with Emily, grabs a handful of material from one of the two compost piles on her property. Neighbors have complained, and the matter goes to court Friday.

Courtesy Doug Nurse; Atlanta - Journal Constitution / April 30, 2009

A conflict between a homeowner and a neighboring horse farm is threatening Milton’s beloved horse community.

Ricky and Kym Crittenden complained to the Fulton County Department of Health and Wellness about two waist-high manure piles next to their property line.

Environmental specialist Lindsay Charles on Wednesday cited horse owner Cynthia Chandlee with creating an environment that can smell and breed flies. To comply with county regulations, Chandlee must haul the manure away twice a week instead of once a year as she says she does. Chandlee has three horses and a donkey on her 6-acre farm.

The citation has sent a collective shiver through the horse community in Milton.

“Word is traveling very fast,” said Laura Bentley, who owns an 8-acre horse farm with four to six animals. “For some, hauling it away isn’t an option. It’s very expensive. This makes us all vulnerable. It threatens our ability to keep horses.”

Jim Grogan, who was in the waste-hauling business for 30 years, said it would cost $600 to $1,400 a month. Usually, people haul the waste off every two weeks to once a month. “This is a way to put the horse people out of business,” Grogan said.

Many horse farms spread manure over the pasture because it’s cheaper than fertilizer. “Only the biggest farms haul it away,” Bentley said. “You have to have a lot of horses to justify the expense.”

Bentley said it seems to be another clash between Milton’s image as a pastoral refuge and the reality of animals next door.“It’s like anything. What do you want?” Bentley said. “If no one has horse farms, then say goodbye to the world we live in here. “

Bentley estimated Milton has between 150 and 200 horse farms.

Horse culture permeates the city. A horse emblem adorns city vehicles, city stationery and the city Web site. Road signs warn motorists to watch for equestrians.

Mayor Joe Lockwood said the city doesn’t have any authority in the case, but he said he will try to intervene if the case does threaten the horse community at large.“We’d certainly support the horse community,” he said. “It’s our identity and something we want to preserve.”

The Crittendens bought their land about nine years ago and said Chandlee promised to move the manure piles then. Chandlee said she mixes in pine shavings from the bedding to create a compost, which she gives to a landscaping company.

Kym Crittenden, who grew up with horses, said she’s tired of battling flies and the smell in the summer from the manure piles. She said she believes the piles could be moved, so that it’s not a problem. Chandlee said that it makes sense to have the manure piles near the barn.

Chandlee maintains that the county is citing her for a problem that doesn’t exist. Charles told Chandlee when he cited her Wednesday that the law doesn’t allow an environment that is likely to smell and breed flies. Her case goes to State Court on Friday.

Crittenden said she had hoped the dispute would be handled quietly. “My whole thing has nothing to do with the horses,” she said. “I hate that the horse community is up in arms.”


Anonymous said...

looks like by the way the horse is posed, it may be the be thinking of offering $20.00 for something??

Anonymous said...

The Crittendens should think about phoning Power Realty, Atlas Van Lines and Delta Airlines.

Anonymous said...

the above comment - too funny! :)

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Is that horse excited, or what?

Anonymous said...

I would be too. Cynthia's looking pretty good in the picture. I'm with her.

Anonymous said...

I don't see why the whole Milton horse community should be getting worried, unless they're also in the habit of being awkward with their neighbours for no reason. Why does the haulage argument even come into this? If Chandlee has 6 acres of land there's surely got to be somewhere better to put the manure than on the property line of a neighbour who doesn't want it there... even if that is the most convenient spot.

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