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A horse-carriage tour operator can continue storing his buggies overnight on a Duke Street property, as long as he builds a fence and screens them from view.
Walter Gay, owner of Sea Island Carriage Co., appealed a decision prohibiting outdoor unscreened storage of carriages at 1409/1411 Duke St. The Zoning Board of Appeals on Monday unanimously granted him permission to continue.
Gay said he will build a fence around the storage area and grow a screen of plants along the property line shared with the Frogmore Lodge. The board's permission comes with the condition that the staging and temporary keeping of the horses are all done on the property. The horses are not kept at the property overnight, but are dropped off and picked up there each day.
Gay says he has been storing his carriages there for about a year. He rents the property from Jim Moss, who recently demolished a deteriorating house on the lot, creating additional room for staging the horses.
"I think they've created enough space to stage the horses on the lot, so as long as they are restricted to Mr. Moss' lot, it should be fine," board member Tim Wood said.
Several residents voiced concerns about manure, noise, blocked traffic and horses grazing while waiting to be hooked to carriages in the morning or picked up at the end of the day.
"To me, this is not good for the neighborhood," Northwest Quadrant resident David Easton said.
Resident Henrietta Goode said a zoning decision should have been delayed while an answer is found to the residents' concerns, including where the carriages are loaded and where the horses are held on the property.
"I think you have to put a hold on the zoning part of it until they come up with a solution for how they are going to handle the manure and the keeping of the horses until Mr. Gay picks them up," Goode said.
Gay said it takes eight to 10 minutes to load and unload the horses, but resident Edna Walker said the process blocks half of Monson Street during that time, and the noise sometimes wakes her up.
Part of the zoning problem, Gay said, is the city considers the carriages equipment, while he considers them vehicles because they have to be registered and licensed with the state.
City planner Libby Anderson said that while vehicles can be parked on commercial lots, equipment must be screened. Staff views the carriages as equipment, she said.
"Mr. Gay is proposing to screen it, so whether it's a vehicle or equipment, it will be screened," board member Brad Hill said.