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White City still has the room for horses

We understand the need to keep rural practices on rural lands, and thus the need to keep large livestock away from city subdivisions. But, news flash, Jackson County, White City is still rural in many areas and residents there have the lot sizes to prove it.

A number of those residents were surprised to find out that despite having multiple-acre properties in an unincorporated part of the county, they were in violation of county rules by having horses or other livestock. Some of them have been visited by county code enforcement officers, apparently after neighbors complained.

Given the issues that have historically plagued White City, we find it hard to understand how having a horse in a nearby field could be considered a nuisance. But that's the case in the area known as the White City Urban Residential District, which is apparently the county's way of making the residents of White City live up to the "city" tag in their community's name. (That, of course, despite the fact that 76 percent of White City voters rejected an incorporation proposal in November 2012.)

The county planning director, Kelly Madding, was quoted in a Wednesday story: "If you didn't know White City wasn't an incorporated city and you drove through, I think most people would say, 'That's a city.' Because it looks like a city."

Not to be redundant, but it isn't a city, regardless of what portions of it look like. You can just as easily drive through other portions and say, "That's not a city." Applying a one-size-fits-all rule is a too-easy out that doesn't fully reflect the situation.

The residents who are faced with giving up their animals or moving make some good points about the county rules. Which are noisier, chickens or horses? Why are goats allowed, but not sheep? Miniature horses are OK, but not full-grown horses. Maybe because they poop less?

Madding stressed that her department is only responding to complaints and is not actively seeking out people with larger livestock. But it's the inflexible county rule that is providing the grounds for the complaints.

We don't see why this has to be an all-or-nothing situation. Certainly, in a subdivision situation, with homes on city-sized lots, it would not make sense to allow large livestock next door. But the two women who a reporter talked with for the story had lot sizes of 2.5 and 4 acres. Maybe you can't run a herd of cattle there, but it's hard to imagine how a couple of horses create a nuisance.

It seems reasonable to us to say that specific livestock in specific limited numbers may be kept on properties that meet minimum size requirements — and perhaps require that they are kept a reasonable distance away from neighboring homes. It doesn't fit neatly in the urban planning box, but then, neither does White City.