Ōpōtiki District Council has received 104 submissions from the public on its proposed bylaw change that would ban keeping horses in town.
The majority were against the ban, however, 15 submissions were in support of horses being banned.
Eight people have indicated that they wish to speak at a submissions hearing.
The council had not yet finalised a date for hearings at the time this story was published or made a decision on whether the hearing would be in person or via a Zoom meeting, but said it would be contacting submitters with a date very shortly.
The review of the bylaws is in response to the ongoing health and safety issues and nuisance caused by roaming horses in the Ōpōtiki township.
The main changes proposed are to obligate animal owners not to keep their horses in the township, in paddocks, tethered or otherwise.
The bylaw will not restrict people from riding horses in the township as long as they are kept under the effective control of the rider.
Horses may be kept in the township temporarily for organised events only and must be kept secure at all times.
A map would be provided to define the area that horses could not be kept.
Roaming horses have been a problem for the council since last year’s Covid-19 lockdown when it was inundated and lacked the space to accommodate so many horses.
People were grazing their horses on stopbanks, front lawns, the side of the road and placed them in paddocks they didn’t own or lease.
The horses were getting loose and roaming the streets in large groups which causes safety issues with vehicles and pedestrians. The horses also damaged people’s fences and gardens, including raiding their vegetable patches.
Grazing on stopbanks also weakened the banks and could result in the stopbank failing during a flood.
The council has previously attempted to mitigate the problem by banning stallions, which stir up the mares causing them to escape their grazing areas, and by introducing a register of horses kept in the township. These measures have been unsuccessful.
Other solutions the council has looked at have been increasing its animal control budget by $200,000, a year to manage the problem, and asking the horse owning community to come up with solutions to the issue.