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Complaints prompt Columbia County to ban horseback riding in Evans Town Center

Ordinance to ban horses from Evans

Posted: November 22, 2015 - 12:03am
After receiving complaints from residents, the Columbia County Commission has approved an ordinance banning horses from the Evans area.  Special
Special
After receiving complaints from residents, the Columbia County Commission has approved an ordinance banning horses from the Evans area.

Randy DuTeau recalls he was with his son on a Sunday afternoon a few weeks ago, driving through the heart of Evans, when something unusual got his attention.

“We were sitting at the traffic light and something caught my eye and I looked over and two guys on horses were crossing at the crosswalk at North Belair Road. I said, ‘You got to be kidding me.’”

DuTeau, director of the Columbia County Convention and Visitors Bureau, said the sight of people on horseback in the dense business corridor of Washington Road caught him and his son by surprise. He was quick to take out his phone and take a few photos, which he posted on Facebook later that day. “To me it was such an odd thing to see,” he said.

DuTeau said he didn’t think about calling the authorities. He wasn’t that concerned. Other residents, however, have complained in recent weeks about horseback riding in the Evans area, which has prompted the county government to act.

On Tuesday, Columbia County commissioners passed first reading of a new ordinance that will ban horses and other livestock from the Evans Town Center area.

County Administrator Scott John-son directed the county attorney to draft the law after complaints about recent equestrian activity, including piles of manure at Evans Towne Center Park.

“It’s not like it’s a terrible thing that is going on,” Johnson said. “It was something we had discussed in the past when we got complaints about it. When we got the most recent complaints, we took action.”

According to county spokeswoman Calie Cook, there was one complaint made to the county’s 311 Customer Service and Information Center in October, and Commission Chairman Ron Cross had also fielded some recent complaints from residents about horses in the Evans area.

The only documented complaint from the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office occurred Oct. 11. In that case, a man called to report “two black males on horses that have no control over them” at the Evans Towne Center Park.

The sheriff’s deputy who was dispatched to investigate made contact with Fred Wiley, the owner of the horses. She noted that the “horses were under control and actually very well mannered for the amount of kids in the area. … The horses were extremely friendly and didn’t display any anxiety from the crowd of kids.”

Because the riders weren’t breaking any laws, no action was taken.

Wiley, 19 and a native of Augusta, said he has been stabling horses nearby at Brown’s Feed & Seed and has been taking them out for rides occasionally with his uncle and his brother.

“I just have a passion for horses,” he said Wednesday. “I train horses. I make them do what I want them to do and I sell them. Everybody wants a parade horse, right?”

He was surprised to hear about the new ordinance but said he considered horseback riding just another form of transportation.

“That’s just like somebody riding a bicycle,” he said. “If you don’t know how to ride a bicycle, don’t ride a bicycle up and down the highway. If you don’t know how to ride a horse, don’t get on a horse and ride it up and down the highway.”

Wiley said he suspected there was an unspoken racial component behind the new law.

“I can tell you straight up what I think it is. It’s rare you see a black guy riding a horse in the Martinez area. I get problems all the time.”

Wiley said in the past two months he’s had drivers question whether he was the owner of the horse and yell racial epithets at him as they drove by.

Johnson, however, said Wiley’s suspicions were off-base and had nothing to do with the ordinance, which will have its second reading at the Dec. 1 commission meeting.

“To my knowledge, no one responsible for writing or requesting the ordinance knew the race of the persons or people who typically ride horses in the park,” he said.

Wiley said he had no intention of protesting the horse ban and planned to relocate his horses as soon as possible.

“It’s all right. I think I’m going to load my horses up and take them on about their business anyway,” he said. “That’s fine with me.”

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Comments (2)

Little Lamb

Sad

Columbia County government is growing more and more fascistic day by day. Come on guys, you should not ban something just because someone complains. There is no stopping, no limiting of complaints and complainants. Sometimes you've just got to tell the complainers to get over it and get a life.

barby692222

horses

What a stupid ordinance!!!!!