All too often when a problem turns up, someone wants to write a new law to fix it.
This happened recently when some residents with a suburban mind bent, encroaching into the more rural areas of Columbia County, complained that nearby horse owners were somewhat less than meticulous in controlling their animals' smells, noises, aesthetics and sanitation.
A proposed ordinance presented Monday night to a county commission panel would revise the livestock law to limit horses to lots one acre or larger - regardless of the zoning classification or the number of horses.
But isn't this like changing the rules in the middle of the game? In most cases, the horse owners were there before the suburbanites were. Fortunately, by the end of the evening it looked like a fairer and more commonsense approach was being adopted, taking some of the steam out of the planned ordinance.
All sides seemed to agree that what may be needed is not a new law at all, but simply more vigorous enforcement of existing nuisance and animal control ordinances.
Most horse owners are responsible and in compliance; only a minority isn't - and to them the acreage requirement would clean up nothing. They'd still have to be dealt with, but as one livestock owner said, it should be done on an individual basis, not by throwing a net over everybody.
The county commission should hold off on the new ordinance, at least until existing ordinances are enforced. Besides, is there any reason to believe a new law would be effective if the old ones aren't?
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