The Wrightstown Zoning Hearing Board approved a number of variances allowing the construction of a horse riding academy in the township.
Laurel Nobilis Arabian Riding Academy has been operating since 2015 at 903 Cherry Lane in Wightstown. The property is being sold so owner May LeBold decided to bring the riding academy a little closer to home. LaBold plans on building and running the academy through her long-time family property on Oriole Road near Wrightstown Elementary School.
LaBold testified that she has lived on the property for her entire life and her family has owned the property, since the 1960s. The 14.6-acre property will move forward as the new home of the Laurel Nobilis Arabian Riding Academy.
LeBold was seeking a number of variances from zoners, including changing the zoning category of the land to allow for riding instructions to take place, condensing the more than 20 tax parcels into a single parcel, allowing a second residence in proximity to the stables to be constructed and to allow more than 15 horses on the property. LeBold requested space for 24 horses at the hearing.
A number of Wrightstown residents and clients of the riding academy came out to express concerns or support the endeavor.
Concern for the project came mostly from residents worried about bugs, deliveries and the safety of their children in the area of a riding academy.
“My concern is the storm water management,” said Harry Betz, a Newtown business owner who lives near the property. The construction will include a storm water management facility, which quelled Betz’s worries a bit.
Other residents worried that trucks coming in with horse trailers would be a constant and that delivery trucks and traffic would increase. Concerns were also raised that bugs would increase due to manure.
LeBold quelled these concerns: manure would be picked up twice every month by a moderately-sized flatbed truck. That same truck would deliver sawdust. Every three weeks, a simple pickup truck will bring hay, LeBold explained. A special insect that LeBold buys will keep the fly population in check by eating larvae before flies can mature.
LeBold and her daughters were not without supporters.
“The LeBold family takes immaculate care of their horses and barn,” Wendy Zitter, a client of the LeBolds said. “You can tell when you meet this family that this is their passion and not just a business.”
Jeff Johnson, a teacher at Wrightstown Elementary School, spoke on behalf of the family and business as well. “I think it is a great idea and I don’t see it as a problem. I know everything that they do is first class,” he said.
In granting a unanimous decision to approve the variances, the three member zoning hearing board indicated that approval was based on a number of conditions. Some of those conditions include that there will be no more than 24 horses housed on the property, manure must be kept in a container away from the property border, only employees or family may stay in the additional apartment and that no lessons may take place after 7 p.m.
The next steps, according to Joseph Blackburn, the LeBolds’ attorney, is for engineers and planners to come up with plans for the varying structures that will be on the property.