Miniature horses get initial OK

Published 10:57 am Friday, May 13, 2011

COURTLAND—A Southampton County Sheriff’s deputy had to quiet the party among neighbors in the County Office Center hallway after the Planning Commission voted 7-0 to recommend that Bobby and Amy Pitts keep their three miniature horses.

The Board of Supervisors will have the final say on the matter during its 8:30 a.m. Monday, June 27, meeting.

A neighbor turned in the Pitts family for having a stable for the horses, which is not allowed in areas zoned for single-family homes like Darden Mill Estates where the Pittses live. However, exceptions can be made.

Bobby Pitts, a former International Paper employee, and his wife, who is losing her teaching job of 12 years at Southampton Academy, paid $500 to appear before the Planning Commission in hopes of keeping the horses at their home, which sits on 2½ acres and abuts a farm.

The Pittses asked for a conditional-use permit — an exception that would allow them to keep their stable, thus their horses.

“These are three minis; they’re very small and very quiet,” Bobby Pittses told the Planning Commission. “The only time you might hear anything is when you take one out and the other is wondering why he’s not going.”

For personal reasons, the Pitts moved the horses to their home in January from a boarding facility.

Pat Sawyer, the neighbor closest to the Pittses, said she didn’t know the horses were even there.

“We have waterfowl, chickens, roosters and a lot of wildlife there,” Sawyer said. “These little horses are quiet. They’re not farm animals like hogs and cows, but family pets like dogs and cats.”

Keith Blythe said when he heard about the controversy, he and his wife took a walk the Pittses’ home.

“We asked to take a look,” Blythe said. “They have a wonderful fence and stable. The dogs in the neighborhood are bigger than these ponies, which will follow you around like puppies. I think it just adds to the neighborhood.”

No one spoke against the horses.

Planning Commission Chairman Dr. Alan Edwards also visited the Pittses.

“”It’s immaculate and didn’t smell,” Edwards said. “I haven’t heard a problem.”