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Equine Rescue Group of South Georgia in Camden County may have to close because of a zoning ordinance

10:48 PM, Sep 17, 2012   |    comments
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CAMDEN COUNTY, Ga. -- A horse rescue organization in Camden County could be forced to shut down if a zoning ordinance isn't changed.

The family that started Equine Rescue Group of South Georgia says it all started with a complaint about the horses on their property.  Now they, and hundreds of others, are calling on Camden County officials to change the ordinance. 

Right now about a dozen horses living on Melissa Anthony's property in White Oak, GA. The horses come from all walks of life.

"The state may call us and it's a surrender, where it's an abuse or neglect case." Melissa Anthony said. "The horses come in here for rehabilitation to heal. We retrain and then eventually we rehome."

While they help the horses she says the horses help everyone from children to adults who come here for therapy.

"It's amazing the intuition the horses have with someone with special needs or disabilities As big as they are the kindness and love and compassion they show."

She and her husband started the non-profit about two years ago.  But about 10 days ago they found out it could be shutdown because she says they have been unknowingly violating a zoning ordinance.

Anthony explained, "This is where we could affect 50 to 60% of horse owners in Camden County. You are suppose to from what the ordinance says from your fence or your corral or barn there is suppose to be 200 ft from that to your neighbors property line."

Word spread quickly and now nearly 1000 people have signed an online petition asking for the ordinance to be changed.

"Within 48 hours I think we had over 700 people sign so that in itself showed my husband and myself how needed we are here in the county."

The Anthony's have now put their property up for sale but hope the county will give them time to find another place to go.

Melissa Anthony said, "We have horses who are blind. We have horses who have unbelievable medical conditions. Where would they go? Where would the children who come out and use our facility what would happen to them? That's what we are concerned about."

County Commissioner Chip King who represents the district the Anthony's living in said after looking into the issue the Anthonys need to apply for a special use permit. It would have to be approved by the Camden County Commission.  If a permit is granted they would have to reduce the number of horses down to six adults or eight yearlings.  If they are not granted a special use permit they would be shutdown unless the zoning ordinance is changed.

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