CLAYTON — The organizer of a horse therapy center that has wandered the region since its founding, won permission Monday night from the Clayton town council to stay right where it is.
But the council also issued a stern rebuke about Reins from Above’s decision to set up shop on 17 acres along Ryans Creek Lane without getting the proper permits from the town.
Before making his motion to allow the center to operate on Ryans Lane, Mayor Pro Tem Michael Grannis told Reins from Above founder Stacey Ryder that the process could have been simpler.
“This process could have been much more timely and easier for everybody, if it had been done in a more timely manner,” Grannis said.
After his rebuke, Grannis offered a motion to approve a special use permit that puts limits on the center’s operations, but allows it to stay put.
The council’s unanimous decision came over the objections of neighbors who voiced concerns about the additional traffic along the privately owned and maintained road.
John Butkowski, of 40 Ryans Creek Lane, said he feared traffic would cause the road to deteriorate and that the road drops off into a deep ravine on one side.
“We maintain the road in front of our houses, the best we can,” Butkowski said of himself and his next door neighbor. “But it someone were to get into an accident, who’s going to be responsible? We would rather keep it private and not allow this.”
Reins from Above provides horse-riding therapy to children and teens who struggle with disabilities. The therapy allows the children to work on basic motor skills and it gives them an opportunity to socialize with other people.
Despite the well-meaning nature of their work, the non-profit’s relocation to Ryans Lane has concerned neighbors. Some have threatened legal action if the town approved the request to allow the center to operate.
But on Monday night, the crowd in attendance at the public hearing was overwhelmingly in favor of the request. Almost 30 people cheered each motion in the approval process.
The approval does come with restrictions. The operation is not allowed to house more than one horse per acre on the property and it is only allowed to be open four days per week. Ryder can not have more than 20 students per day at the sessions. And on-site fundraisers are limited to four per year.
Planning Director Dave DeYoung said Ryder had agreed to those conditions prior to Monday night’s meetings.
DeYoung also recommended that property owners consider entering into a written agreement that outlines who is responsible for road maintenance.
The town can’t legislate that requirement, but town attorney Katherine Ross said it would benefit all parties to have those responsibilities spelled out.