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Arden Hills Council denies 10-year-old's request

  • Article by: Chao Xiong
  • Star Tribune
  • September 25, 2007 - 12:54 AM

There won't be any galloping or neighing in Natalie Linders' back yard.

The Arden Hills City Council voted unanimously on Monday night to deny the 10-year-old city resident's request to classify miniature horses as domestic animals so she could keep one in her yard.

Natalie began her campaign to change the city's zoning code about a month ago after city planner James Lenhoff told her that miniature horses were farm animals. That classification requires more space than the Linders' one-third acre yard would allow.

Council members who voted against reclassifying mini-horses as domestic animals said they were worried about a horse living without other horses, about the amount of space available and about neighbors' reactions.

Natalie had argued that miniature horses are smaller than many other domestic animals. She showed council members a poster depicting a full-size miniature horse at 32 inches tall and marked where several large dog breeds would fall on the chart, including mastiffs and great Danes at 30 inches, great Pyrenees at 32 inches and Irish wolfhounds at 35 inches.

"You've never heard of a miniature horse killing or mauling anyone, have you?" she asked the council before the vote.

Natalie's dad, Vince, said of her foray into trying to shape public policy, "I put her up to it, and she's done a fantastic job."

The council also decided to look at revamping the ordinance to better define a domestic animal and suggested that Natalie serve on an advisory committee. "I want to thank you for your confidence, your wisdom and your passion," Mayor Stan Harpstead told her.

Chao Xiong • cxiong@startribune.com

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