GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

April 27, 2013

Neighbors raise hurdles to horse barn

By James Niedzinski
Staff Writer

---- — ROCKPORT — Citing various health and noise concerns, a group of Rockport residents have effectively stopped the construction of a barn at 16 Mary Helen Way for the time being, where Tim and Allison Wile are looking to house two horses.

The couple had gained town approval from Rockport’s building inspector, the Board of Health and the Conservation Commision in early April, Allison said.

”We’ve already hired a contractor, ordered materials and dug a foundation,” Tim Wile said. “We’ve spent thousands.”

Wise said that he can still construct the 576-square-foot barn in the center of their backyard, but the Wiles cannot house horses until complaints filed with the Board of Health and the Zoning Board of Appeals have been dealt with.

During a Tuesday Board of Health meeting, Health Agent Leslie Whelan said the board heard from a number of people citing concerns about the barn. The Board of Health is set to do a site visit at the Wiles’ house today to further examine the proposed barn.

Last week, two neighbors — Carole Roberts of 14 Mary Helen Way, and Rob and Annette Hale of Summer Street — filed for zoning relief with the Zoning Board of Appeals. Under state law, any appeal to a permit can be filed with 30 days of when the permit was granted; the filing essentially means the barn construction is now at a standstill.

Carole Roberts declined to comment on the story, indicating a group of residents has retained a lawyer about the proposed barn.

Robert Hale also declined to comment, and did not respond to calls placed by the Times on Friday regarding the lawyer who is acting on behalf of the neighbors.

Marybeth Murphy of Pleasant Street, while not an abutting neighbor or involved with the group of residents hiring a lawyer, said Friday that she, too, has concerns about the barn.

”This neighborhood is congested, it makes no sense whatsoever,” she said of the barn.

Murphy, who is married to Selectman Paul Murphy, added that, because the property is pitched uphill, she has concerns about how waste will travel downhill.

”All they have now is a chain-link fence,” she said.

The ZBA complaint filed by Roberts and the Hales also notes concerns about waste runoff.

Murphy added she is not an expert on horses, but the barn seems small and unsafe for the horses themselves.

”From the outside observer, it does not seem to make sense,” she said.

Murphy also had issues with the smells, flies and noises associated with a barn.

However, the Wiles said there are no plans for a manure pile on their property. They said they plan to properly contain the waste and bring it to the transfer station.

Tim Wile said he had not planned on using pesticides either, opting for natural predators — such as flies — instead.

He said the barn would allow for up to three horses, but the couple currently own just two.

Allison and Tim both said they understand their neighbors’ concerns, but the people opposed to the barn never addressed their concerns to the Wiles.

”Nobody came to me and asked about the barn,” Tim Wile said.

He said the barn only requires 10,000 square feet of space, while their backyard is 13,000 square feet.

They were not even aware their property was the topic of a Board of Health meeting, coming to that conclusion only after seeing a number of their neighbors cars outside of Town Hall Tuesday night.

“My neighbors could have asked me what I was doing,” Allison said. “I’ve always tried to be courteous.”

For now, 29-year-old former quarter racing horse Montana and the palomino colored Haylee are housed at Seaview Stables on Seaview Street.

“I fell in love with him in a couple weeks,” Allison Wile said of Montana. “They’re basically like big dogs to me.”

“I’m 50,” she said, “and I’ve wanted a horse since I could walk.”

The Board of Appeals is set to discuss the issue at its May meeting.

James Niedzinski can be reached at 978-283-7000, x 3455 or at jniedzinski@gloucestertimes.com.