A first reading requiring collection devises on all horses that travel through the city of Auburn was held Monday, May 12. The reading drew a unanimous vote by the council who seem to feel they have no other choice but to amend their current animal ordinance.
The city has been battling horse droppings for several years now on both the streets and parking lots of city businesses. The growing Amish community that settled on the Logan-Simpson line travel through the city often on horse and buggy leaving behind unsightly remnants of their visits.
According to Auburn Mayor Mike Hughes there have been many “handshake”agreements through the years with the Amish community who have promised to stop and clean up after their horses, however, according to Hughes, this just isn’t being done enough.
“I have talked to them over and over again,” said Hughes. “This is not a new issue. In fact, it’s one I have been fighting since I came into office.”
The city began receiving numerous complaints from citizens who either stepped in, or tracked home, horse droppings along with smelling the odor left behind. The complaints caused the city to look at their animal ordinance closer, which it has been mulling over for numerous months.
“There really wasn’t much to say at Monday’s meeting that hasn’t already been said. Everyone agreed that this was something that needed to be done,” said councilwoman Norma Kutzman. “Those bringing horses through town have been given ample opportunity in the past to correct this problem and it hasn’t been done. Now we are having to amend the ordinance.”
Kutzman says she doesn’t want the perception they city is going after Amish, and that the council is just trying to keep the town clean.
The current animal ordinance states “collect” where the amended will say “capture.” That means those who travel through the city of Auburn either riding a horse or pulling a horse drawn vehicle, will have to have collection devices on the rear of their horses to collect droppings. The amendment will leave room for exemptions during special events or parades.
The Amish community take issue with the amended ordinance. They have, through elder representation, expressed concern for safety saying the requirement will be dangerous due to most of their horses are retired race horses and may be scared when a collection device is placed behind them, tapping their rear.
“We’ve been dealing with this for at least three years now and have had no improvement,” said councilman Shane Johnson. “The citizens have asked for a change and I think it is time we amend the ordinance to give them one. This amendment will address all situations with large animals.”
Asked if he believes people will perceive the city is picking on the Amish community, Johnson says, “No I do not. We have discussed this in the past with people thinking we are picking on the Amish, but this has become a nuisance in our town and with any nuisance we have to hold to the same standard as we do with everyone else.”
Two members of the Amish community attended Monday’s meeting but did not speak. After the meeting they asked for a copy of the proposed amendment. A second reading is scheduled to be held Monday, June 9 at Auburn City Hall.