By Alex Bridges
FRONT ROYAL -- A horse-training business in Warren County received the green light Tuesday to open a commercial riding stable.
The Board of Supervisors voted 5-0 to approve a conditional-use permit requested by Harvey and Alice Barlow to run a stable at 327 Hidden Valley Lane in the North River District.
Team Barlow Performance Horses LLC operates on a 27-acre tract of land owned by the Barlow family. Harvey, Kathy and Alice Barlow have lived on the property since 1991, according to information provided by the family. Harvey Barlow spoke to the board during the public hearing held on the request. Barlow told the board that their daughter, Alice, has been involved with horses for many years and went to college in Ohio for equestrian studies.
"While there she did her market survey; she did a five-year plan and she found that she can come home and do what she wanted to do, and that this area could support a business she envisioned," Barlow said.
While the permit as issued allows the business to board up to 16 horses, Barlow said he estimates no more than four or five horses per month would be kept at the stables as the animal and owner undergo training.
Barlow said his daughter, who came up through the county's 4-H program, would eventually like to use the business to help train current 4-H participants.
County Planner Matt Wendling explained that the applicants seek to operate the commercial riding stables in the existing facilities on their property. The facilities currently consist of a barn with a feed room and three stalls, an outdoor sand arena and two pens
"The applicants' focus will be on training," Wendling said. "Therefore they will not be offering trail rides to the public."
Information from the Barlows indicates they plan to generate business through horse training, riding lessons, clinics and day camps, boarding and sale of incidental tack. Wendling told the board the Barlows would hold camps several times during the year. Two members of the Barlow family will work as the facility's employees and will live on the property.
In addition to the usual requirements, the conditions of the permit call for the business to make training lessons by appointment only; limit the number of horses boarded at any one time to 15, including the owner's; and to provide a portable, on-site restroom for clients. The business may not use the existing septic system as noted in a Dec. 30 letter from the Warren County Health Department. The permit also limits the brightness of outdoor lighting.
Staff and the Planning Commission, which endorsed the permit, originally recommended a maximum of 20 horses to be boarded on the property. However, the Virginia Tech Cooperative Extension Office submitted comments to the Planning and Zoning Department that they felt 20 horses would be too many on the property and recommended a maximum of 16, Wendling said. The Barlows submitted a letter to the county requesting that they be allowed to board an additional horse, Wendling said.
Based on the letter, in which the Barlows also addressed how they would handle runoff pollution through agricultural, best-management practices, Planning Director Taryn Logan determined the additional horse would not pose a significant impact, Wendling said.
Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or firstname.lastname@example.org