An Elba husband and wife who have been keeping two young horses at their residence on South Main Street in the village for the past three months have until this Saturday to find new homes for the animals.
That was the ruling of Elba Town Justice E. Douglas King on Wednesday night in connection with the unauthorized stabling of the horses by Mark and Bunny Stoneham.
At proceedings at the Oakfield Community and Government Center on Drake Street, King asked Mark Stoneham if the horses were still on his property. Stoneham said yes, adding that the couple has been looking at two different places.
When Stoneham said he would have the horses moved by a week from Saturday (July 1), King countered by stating the animals needed to be removed by this Saturday.
“If not, I am going to impose a $50 fine per day for each day until they are removed,” King said. “And when they are (being moved), you must contact Mr. (Mark) Mikolajczyk for inspection.”
A phone call this morning to Mikolajczyk, the town’s code/zoning enforcement officer, had yet to be returned at the time of this posting.
King told Stoneham that he was “sorry” that he had to impose the deadline, but added “we have these codes for a reason and we have given you ample time to get these two colts to a proper place.”
Elba’s zoning laws state that there shall be no stabling of farm animals or storage of manure, fertilizer, etc., within the R (Residential) District, within 500 feet of an R District and within 100 feet of a lot line.
The Stoneham’s house is located a short distance north of Elba Central School, and the school’s athletic fields are situated behind the Stoneham’s property line to the east.
Following the proceedings, Bunny Stoneham said she and her husband rescue horses and these two horses “came to us in an emergency situation” and needed 24-hour care.
“We took them in – a little boy and a little girl -- because they need each other to rely on or else they would have died,” she said. “We were getting ready to move them but the purchase of a farm fell through.”
The Stonehams are affiliated with Clydesdale Breeders of the U.S.A. and said they own eight other horses at different locations. The two horses in question in Elba currently are being kept in the couple’s garage/converted office when not in a fenced-in yard behind the house.
Their next door neighbors, Crosby and Mari-Ellen Lamont, filed a complaint with village officials on March 28 “but the zoning officer didn’t believe it,” Mrs. Lamont said.
Eventually, law enforcement was notified and the matter went before Town Court on May 21. At that time the Stonehams were given a 30-day adjournment to remove the animals from their property.
Mrs. Lamont (who provided the photos above) said the situation has resulted in a bad smell coming from the yard and the presence of mice, rats and horseflies in the neighborhood.
Mrs. Stoneham disputed those claims, stating that her husband gets up early every morning to clean the area and transport manure from the property.
Needless to say, the situation has resulted in hard feelings and a heightened tension between the neighbors.