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Riding academy hits snags in Upper Makefield


A center for rehabilitating thoroughbred horses that doubles as a riding academy is at the center of renewed controversy in Upper Makefield.

Residents who attended the Board of Supervisors Tuesday evening (Jan. 8) meeting said the owner of the facility at 43 Van Sant Road isn’t meeting township-imposed conditions that must be adhered to in order for the center to be allowed to operate.

Neighbor Richard Decker, whose property is by the Holly Pond Partners equestrian property, said a top concern is that dumpsters for collecting manure from the 25 horses are not being properly administered.

The dumpsters have no covering, whereas township conditions mandate the dumpsters need to be covered. Decker said the dumpsters are also being emptied only once every two to 2½ weeks; they’re supposed to be emptied twice a week, he said.

Decker showed pictures of dumpsters piled high with manure, with the waste in one picture overflowing out of the open back of a dumpster.

Decker said the concern is not only intrusive odor and fly swarms, but that rain is able to freely flow through manure dumpsters and then out into a nearby creek, creating potential environmental issues.

Decker said an equestrian center employee told him dumpsters can’t be covered for fear of spontaneous combustion, an revelation Decker found alarming.

“We could have dumpster fires,” he said.

Oother conditions of operation are also not being met, including installing a fence to protect a creek.

Township Solicitor Mary Eberle said the horse rehab center property owner, Eric Kretschman, who was not present Tuesday, is appealing the adjudication that placed about 20 conditions on the academy in order for it to operate.

“He is treating the appeal like a stay, which it is not,” said Eberle. “He doesn’t get to do whatever he wants. …We are very disappointed.”

Township officials said they are working toward a resolution.

The nearly 20 conditions include a cap of 25 horses maximum and restrictions on lighting. Manure spreading is barred. No events – including weddings, concerts and “agritainment” – are allowed.

Imposed by supervisors, the conditions aim, in part, to address concerns residents raised at meetings last year in which Kretschman was seeking approval from the township to operate. Residents have worried about potential noise, manure smell, intrusive lighting, increased traffic and more.