Residents Object To Amish-Friendly Horse Acreage Change; Vote Postponed, Lawsuit Possible

Residents have spoken out in one Lancaster County township – over a proposed change which would permit stabling of two horses on a half-acre lot.

Voices were strong against the idea. From Lancaster Online:

East Hempfield Township residents panned a proposal to let Plain sect households stable two horses on residential lots as small as a half acre, prompting the supervisors Wednesday to postpone a vote.

“If an Amish person puts a horse barn and two horses next to me, my quality of life goes down the drain,” Lloyd Pickell of Spooky Nook Road said.

“This is craziness … and cruel to a horse,” David Hughes said.

The supervisors voted 5-0 to table the measure after eight residents and two attorneys urged them to reject the change during a half-hour hearing. No one spoke in favor.

“I’m sure (the Amish are) good neighbors, but having horses in a residential development doesn’t make any sense,” Terrence Fenstermacher of Brookside Drive said.

Colleen Jacobson of Chapel Forge Drive called the proposal “totally unprecedented.”

“I don’t think you understand what you’re doing,” Jacobson said, noting that she spoke with zoning officers at four municipalities. “No one recommends a half an acre for one horse, let alone two.”

That sounds like a pretty strong rebuke by at least a segment of the non-Amish, non-horse-stabling part of the community. No Amish attended the meeting.

Township resident Richard Szarko was the main objector when we first came across this story. It looks like there are others on his side. Szarko says that he’ll sue the township if the zoning changes are made.

East Hempfield Township Manager Cindy Schweitzer says that the township has in fact not seen “a trend” of Amish wishing to move into smaller properties.

So in this township at least – which as noted in the previous post, is not an area of heavy Amish settlement in Lancaster County – this issue seems to be stemming mainly from an isolated case.

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    1. Liz

      horse and zonng

      To change the zoning, the contiguous property owners/ subdivision must all concur to this change.

      If a chicken farmer has his farm prior to people building homes, then they are aware that they are willing to live nearby. Thus, they can not object later to the farm. In tis situation, no horses (assumed) were located in the area, and now horses/ farm animals are being allowed. They built there with certain expectations. The value of their property changes, negatively. It is generally considered a standard were as one (1) horse on a 5 acre property, and an additional horse for 6 acres. This allows for grazing, manure handling, buildings, etc.

    2. Real American

      property rights

      If you don’t own it (or lease it) you have no moral or traditional AMERICAN VALUE right to even have an opinion. IF manure (or such) drains on you then you may have state environmental complaint. The free use of private property is the backbone & basis of OUR AMERICAN CIVILIZATION. Don’t like – go back to Europe & whatever area controlled by a Lord or king, your ancestors fled from. Zoning is a perversion of basic American rights.

      1. Geo

        Good grief

        Erik, can’t you edit out extremist posts like this?

        1. What would be the criteria to define a comment as “extremist” and which should be blocked?

          Our comment filters catch vulgar language, and I generally discourage off-topic political tangents (not always succcessfully) and ad hominem attacks, and encourage civility.

          For the most part commenters here have been great over the years. A comment being posted here does not mean I or the site endorses it. That said, I don’t really appreciate the tone of the comment you’re referring to, and I’d ask that commenter to note what I’ve said here.

          1. Geo


            Well said. On reflection, I doubt it’s a legitimate fan. It typifies Russian troll postings to USA social media to sow political dissension. It’s political, angry, inflammatory, and divisive. Whether and how it works is debated but no question they are doing it. Attracting political trolls may show Amish America has hit the big time. Maybe congrats are in order?

            1. Well I’m not the expert on Russian trolls; this seems like what it appears at first glance: a person with some strong feelings on a controversial topic. I don’t know what counts as “big time” but we do get hundreds of spam comments each week. Luckily the filter blocks 99+% of that, so no one has to see it but me if I choose to wade into the spam box 🙂

          2. K Kelly

            Anytime someone tells someone to “go back” to where they came from, it doesn’t meet the standard of civility I enjoy on your site.

            1. That’s fair enough. Noted, and I’ll have my eye on this thread.

      2. Horses on acreage

        Are you serious? If I don’t own yet pay rent on a property, and don’t want horses living in tight quarters next to me, I should go back to where my ancestors come from? You must be another of those typical trump supporters whose main refrain to anyone who disagrees with you is: “Love it or leave it!” Your right to be an obnoxious neighbor ends where my right to have reasonable neighbors begins. Whether I own or rent. It’s the peaceful enjoyment of one’s home, be it a rental or an owned one. That is the law! I live in a rural area and I love horses, but, I wouldn’t want an Amish horse farm next door to my house. I’ve seen how they “take care” of their horses and the untidiness of their farms. I have little against the Amish. My only issue with them is their treatment of animals. The rest of their lifestyle is fine with me. By the way, leasing is not that different from renting!

        1. Geo


          Janice, I suspect it’s not what it appears to be. It’s a typical Russian troll posting intended to make Americans quarrel among themselves. Read my reply to Erik about it.

        2. Abraham

          1/2 acre lots

          Janice I understand fully and agree with you; you in fact are talking consideration of others, specifically neighbors.

          My only clarification is “any farmer” [and not just Amish] that treat their horses and farm animals with neglect and abuse [includes overwork] should be reported. In addition, I have seen some really filthy, eerie, and down right creepy farms in my day so I understand all you care about as do I.

          And yes, we all have the right to live in decency – safe surroundings, fresh water, clean air, peace. And as you say, our rights are violated when someone tries to infringe their agenda on an existing development.

          1. Horses and acreage

            Abraham. Thank you. I agree that it isn’t only the Amish who can be quite lax in their care of God’s creatures. Too many non-Amish are as bad, if not worse!

      3. Sokowa

        Very true

        ‘Real American’ is spot on. It’s horrible when our forefathers fought hard to pass on freedoms to us and we lazily squander it. Freedom doesn’t mean you’ll be smelling manure or getting horse poop draining into your water, as it’s the responsibility of each landowner to keep from harming others’ property rights. But it is not up to anyone else how one should choose to use their land. If horses were allowed, i’d say that increases property value, it allows more choice! It’s immoral to dictate to others how they should use their land.

        I would also say, even if a chicken farm existed there before the subdivision came about, that does not give them the ok to stink up or otherwise damage other people’s properties, even if others move in there later. That is an immoral way to look at property rights.

        1. Abraham

          Less than 2 acres

          This is well said and correct on all levels. It shows respect for all invovled.

    3. Geo

      I love horses

      I love horses. Concentrations of horses and concentrations of manure not so much. I had to move from my 5 acre homestead when my neighbor turned his 5 acres into a horse boarding business. The legal limit there was 2 horse per acre so 10 horses were boarded next door to me. The air pollution, dust, flies, and odor became intolerable very quickly. Zoning was no help because it was all legal. After a year, I gave up and moved. Only two horses per acre made my life next door miserable to the point I moved. Four horses per acre won’t be a residential area where I would try to live..

    4. Name

      The zoning is stupid and those opposing what people do to their own homes or how they driver have no right to. Maybe the Amish should oppose your right to drive your motor vehicle which causes over 40k deaths per year? Maybe they should oppose your right to a two car garage or extra parking for you gas guzzlers and polluting toxic vehicle?

      You complain about their horse poop. Amish will tell you that horse poop is potatoes (no pun intended) compared to the debris and ware that cars cause.

      1. True

        The very nature of the automobile means we are subsidizing motor vehicle drivers. The automobile by by design requires a complex network of roads and materials to make it possible for their ability to perform as they were designed to. That is not the Amish fault that cars require expensive paved roads. Amish buggies can ride in gravel, dirt, or paved roads. Their mode of transport is not the problem.

        The environmental impact of cars is the problem. The environmental impact of paved roads is the problem. Besides being very expensive and a growing burden due to aged infrastructure, paved roads need more land to build (therefore more deforestation) create environmental damage due to the compact materials used to build and maintain paved roads.

        I’m not someone overzealous about the environment. I just this it is worth being up, because there is hypocrisy from those against the horse and buggy. These people are worried about a little horse poop. Their cars are polluting the very air we breath and creating both environmental and financial burdens far larger than anything a metal horseshoe or horse poop could do. The horse and buggy is much safer and cleaner than a car or truck.

        1. Automobiles, etc.

          True: I don’t believe that people are worried about a little poop. My sister-in-law owned a 5 acre horse farm out in the boonies of Texas. She had 3-6 horses on that farm. I can tell you that those horses generated more than a little poop! I am not at all bothered by anyone driving a horse and buggy. I do worry about the horses being properly shod. I worry about the horse’s general health. I worry when I see 6 year-old in charge of the horse and buggy with even younger children sitting next to him/her. I love horses, and I love being around them. I used to ride them when I was youngster. My sister was a competitive jumper in her younger days. She still rides at age 72. Horses aren’t the problem; humans who don’t take proper care of them and the land they live on, are!

    5. Philip DiNovo

      There may be a solution.

      Have a area where the Amish would be allowed to have two horses on a residential lot on an acre lot. Have a yearly inspection. No one should build or rent in the area because they would know the the situation. The Amish due to circumstances may need this allowance.