Horse owners in Golden Plains Shire have been confused and angered by a proposal to change the number of animals allowed in medium-sized blocks.
The council released its draft Local Law No. 2 document at the end of August for public comment - an accompanying Community Impact Statement includes detail on each proposed change.
Local Law No. 2 covers virtually all council functions outside of governance - among other things, it sets controls on waste collection and management, signage and roads, and animal control.
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It's not uncommon for councils to revise these documents periodically - there was uproar over Hepburn Shire's proposal earlier this year.
Golden Plains Shire's changes include reducing the amount of time people can ride recreational motorbikes on their properties each day and banning roadside firewood collection, as well as more clarification on the types of waste accepted in council bins and burn offs.
The Keeping of Animals sections has also changed - in the 2017 law, properties between four and six hectares do not need a permit to keep livestock, but this is changing in the draft law, which states properties between two and six hectares will require a permit to have more than 12 large animals, of which no more than four can be horses.
Some small businesses, including harness racing trainers, have objected to the proposal, saying it puts them in jeopardy after not requiring permits before.
A petition on Change.org attracted more than 1500 signatures in 24 hours fighting the proposed change, but council is urging people to have their say through the website so it can help refine the final document.
Debra Wicks-Moss, her husband Greg, and their daughters train harness racing horses on their property in Grenville - she said their property, which has a purpose-built track and stable, would come just under the 6 hectare limit.
"We have 14 or 15 horses here at any one time - it's still giving us concerns, we purchased this property with full knowledge there was no limit on the number of horses and we didn't have to pay for permits to keep said horses," she explained.
"We've still got concerns if this goes through we'll be impacted, and we'll have to make submissions to council and town planners to get existing rights, because we're 0.01 hectares under the size they're saying is suitable."
As well as horses that currently compete, there are also former champions and retired mares living out their days on their property - Ms Wicks-Moss said this could cost hundreds of dollars every few years, and she did not want to get rid of any horses if a solution could not be found.
She added she had made enquiries with council about the situation, and was told they should be covered by existing use, but she wanted more clarity.
"We've gone through COVID-19, this has been an entirely dreadful year for everyone, now you have council telling you you can't do this or that, you're only allowed that many horses, they just want to intrude into your life," she said.
"Horses are an emotive issue with people, you don't have one for the sake of having one."
Golden Plains Shire said the proposed changes for animal keeping could mean some households will need permits for the first time, but others will no longer need one - properties with a planning permit or existing use rights for animal breeding or training under the Golden Plains Planning Scheme would not require a Local Law permit.
Mayor Owen Sharkey said the draft document had been created based on feedback and complaints from the past three years.
"We're really pleased to see so many of our residents and ratepayers have already had their say in helping us develop a better Local Law," he said in a statement.
"By putting the draft out for public feedback, we're hoping to hear from those residents and ratepayers we haven't yet heard from.
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"Council has received feedback from the community supporting the proposed changes, as well as from community members raising concerns. All feedback we receive will be considered in refining the new Local Law, and I hope everyone will take up this opportunity to have their say before the consultation closes next Tuesday morning."
You can view the draft, and the Community Impact Statement, online.
Feedback submissions close at 11.59am on Tuesday, September 22, before the council election period begins.
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