Lake Council vote may force family's horses to gallop off

2013-07-09T18:00:00Z 2013-07-10T09:45:04Z Lake Council vote may force family's horses to gallop offBill Dolan bill.dolan@nwi.com, (219) 662-5328 nwitimes.com
July 09, 2013 6:00 pm  • 

CROWN POINT | It may be the last roundup for two horses a south Lake County family have long enjoyed on their 7.4-acre homestead.

The Lake County Council refused Tuesday to grant a variance in the county's zoning code permitting Steve DeHaan to turn his home, four miles west of Lowell, into a hobby farm where he could keep the steeds that have been in the family for five years.

It may result in the horses having to be boarded at an off-site stable.

The vote climaxed a debate on the clashing interests between the DeHaan's desire to enjoy a more rural, equine lifestyle and those of his neighbors who object to the sight and smells of a 26-foot-high barn the DeHaans would like to build.

Although much of the area around the DeHaan home is farm field and woods, it is within a the 10-acre Whitetail Acres subdivision. A subdivision covenant and the county's zoning code restrict hobby farm animals in such small subdivisions.

Jim Biggs, a neighbor who said his family has lived there a long time, complained.

"The (restrictions) were in place when he moved in," Biggs said. "If he gets this, what is next? Farm animals are a slippery slope."

Tim Henke, a representative of the DeHaan family, said the family, which has been living there for more than a decade, doesn't want any other farm animals, only the two horses they already have.

Councilwoman Elsie Franklin, D-Gary, said she was reluctantly casting a vote against the DeHaan horses.

"Sudivisions are taking over farm land and pushing the farms out," Franklin said.

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