People turned out in numbers at a September 23 public hearing to voice their opposition to proposed limits on equestrian events and facilities in Queen Anne’s County. The ordinance sought to include equestrian activities among the permitted uses in the agricultural zone and to regulate such events, setting 18 acres as the minimum site size that could hold an event and limiting the number of attendees to 25. Major events of 300 people per day would have to occur on sites of at least 75 acres and could take place only three times a year.
The ordinance was introduced on September 9 by County Commissioner Paul Gunther. After listening to 16 speakers who opposed the bill, including a 7-year-old who had just attended her first horse show, Gunther and the legislation’s co-sponsor Board of Commissioners President Dr. Eric Wargotz said the proposal would be amended before being reintroduced. While speakers did endorse the bill’s inclusion of equestrian operations as permitted in the agricultural zone, they almost universally opposed its other stipulations.
A number of horse farm owners said that their struggling businesses could not survive without such events. The shows provide wholesome activities for youth in an area without many other entertainment offerings, and horse events generate income for the county by drawing visitors from other areas.