Veda, 11, spent weeks researching miniature horses and visiting breeders with her mom before deciding on Smoke. It didn't take long for the once shy 175-pound miniature horse to warm up to Veda, who already had fallen in love with the "little guy" with the smoky gray coat, her mother, Nancy Link, said.
The Link family was all set to welcome the miniature horse to their Chanhassen home — until the neighbors pushed back. Some residents on nearby Ridge Road and Pleasant View Road sent letters and spoke out at a March 15 public hearing against the horse becoming a permanent fixture in their single family residential neighborhood.
While the city on Monday gave Smoke the go-ahead, Nancy Link is still unsure about bringing him home, given the opposition of some neighbors. "I was not expecting this at all," she said.
When Veda approached her mom about adopting a miniature horse, Link met with city officials and sent a letter to neighbors informing them that Smoke might soon be moving onto their 1.75 acre property. Link began hearing their concerns, including possible smell, noise and decreased property values with livestock coming into their high-end neighborhood adjacent to Christmas Lake.
Neighbors took up the issue of the city's livestock ordinance, which some have said is outdated. The ordinance, which stipulates that farm animals can be kept on a property of 10 acres or more, includes a rule that allows for horse stables on properties with more than an acre.
Chanhassen city officials now plan on revising the livestock ordinance in the near future, said Bob Generous, senior planner. The city has about 20 stable permits, all located on properties deemed agricultural.
The city approved Link's interim use permit to construct a private stable for Smoke. City officials included additions to the permit including prompt and timely removal of manure.
"She wants it for her kids, and we will allow it," Mayor Denny Laufenburger said.
But her neighbors have not given her the green light.
When Link first contacted the city, she was told that to have a miniature horse on her property she would have to build a stable for him and obtain an interim use permit, she said. She submitted the application for the permit and her neighbors received postcards from the city about the stable. Link decided to include a letter in each of her neighbors' mailboxes about the miniature horse.
The city then held a public hearing about the stable on March 15. Jack Fess, 74, was one of the neighbors who attended the meeting to voice his concerns about the miniature horse.
"We don't want this horse on our street," Fess said in a phone interview Tuesday. "Ninety percent of the residents don't want this horse."
After more than an hour of discussion on Monday, the city approved the stable Monday with several of the neighbors in attendance. After all the hubbub surrounding the tiny horse, Link may find another home for him.
Link said her back up plan is giving Smoke a home at a nearby stable where Veda can visit him.
"She wants it so badly," she said. " She really wants it at the house. It would have been a lot better if the neighbors weren't so against it. I really don't want to put her in that position of feeling uncomfortable."