The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, February 1, 2002


BOH prepares to regulate stables

Board of health (BOH) chairman Steve Opolski opened the January 22 meeting as more than 50 people, many standing, crowded into the Clark Room at Town Hall. Opolski explained that state law requires the BOH to license and regulate stables if the town population is greater than 5,000 people. Town clerk Sarah Andreassen claims that there are currently more than 5,000 people living in Carlisle, he said. The state, which does not have as recent a count as Andreassen, says we are under 5,000.

"We're not experts on stables," explained Opolski as he asked for guidance from residents in reaching some sensible regulations. The timetable requires a public hearing in the summer before the regulations are made official in the fall. Opolski explained that, unlike other bylaws, the BOH regulations are not voted at Town Meeting. The state law insists that the town not be able to legislate health regulations.

Regulations in other towns

The BOH has looked at local regulations from some other towns such as Concord, Bedford, Wilmington and Essex. Some of the regulations are one page and others as long as 12 pages. Bedford defines an animal unit as one horse or two goats or ten chickens or 13 pigeons. The homeowner must have one acre of land for the first animal unit and 2/3 of an acre for each additional unit.

Homeowner Shawnee Baker suggested that the towns the BOH had listed were not comparable to Carlisle. She suggested that the BOH look at towns of Dover, Sherborn, Wayland, Boxboro, Millis and Sudbury which have two-acre zoning.

How many horses per acre?

Someone explained that the one horse-per-acre rule had its origins when it was assumed that the acre was needed to farm hay to feed the horse. That is not the case in our modern society where most people buy the feed for their animals instead of growing it.

Sally Lakness, who is an animal inspector for the town, expressed hope that new regulations would grandfather a farm that currently has five horses on one acre, "so people would not have to get rid of their best friends."

Dealing with manure

Opolski explained that both people and horses need a healthy environment. Regulations should deal with how to regulate management of manure, drainage, number of animals, size of stalls, and impact on wetlands. A suggestion was made for piling the manure at times when it might be difficult to move it, such as in winter. The manure could be limed and treated with insecticides.

One participant felt that treating manure with insecticides would prohibit its use later for organic fertilizer. Lakness explained that if it is done with water, lime and earthworms, manure treatment can produce "black wonderful stuff." "I decorate with it" she added.

Sue Granger said the regulations should consider abutters. Granger does not have any horses but lives next to a house with four horses on two acres. Her neighbors have managed to place the horse stables and the manure storage as far from their own house as possible but next to Granger's property. She felt there ought to be some set-back rules.

Tricia Smith, who owns goats but no horses, pointed out that the vast majority of nitrogen-loading problems come from septic systems and not lawn fertilizer. Smith also suggested that the regulations address a means of conflict resolution, and that owners be required to submit a management plan to justify stable operations. Opolski agreed.

Opolski concluded by asking for volunteers to serve on a subcommittee to help formulate Carlisle's regulations. BOH agent Linda Fantasia passed out a sheet and a number of people signed up.

2002 The Carlisle Mosquito