By WILLIAM LUNDQUIST
Sea Horse Trail Rides, the subject of controversy at last weeks state parks public meeting, was also the subject of a complaint to Curry County by neighbor Carlos Elias for operating without a conditional use permit.
Curry County Planner Laura Greathead said she is working with Penny Nelson, the owner of the business, and Robert and Alice Foelkl, the owners of the leased residence in Harbor.
She said Nelson wrote a letter in March asking what was needed for a horse riding rental business. Greathead said she told her she would need a conditional use permit and sent her an application form.
To date, no application has been submitted, Greathead said.
Nelson and the Foelkls have said they will be sending in the paperwork and have been given until Aug. 22 to do so.
She said home occupations are allowed in a rural residential (RR10) zone if they meet certain criteria.
Greathead said no enforcement action is planned at this time. The file is open. Were working with them, she said.
Nelson said Tuesday that she is in the process of filing for the permit.
She said because the business operates mainly on state parks land she wasnt sure exactly what county permit would be needed, but said she would comply with whatever was required.
She said the application was delayed because the Foelkls were needed to provide information, and they had been ill.
Nelson said she would meet the Aug. 22 deadline and felt confident the permit would be approved.
Sea Horse Trail Rides became the center of controversy when Elias and several neighbors living close to the business voiced complaints during a recent state parks public hearing. They were upset about dust and manure on beach trails.
On Thursday, Elias told The Pilot he also wondered if a permit from the Oregon Department of Transportation was needed to lead the trail rides across U.S. Highway 101.
He felt trying to get speeding traffic to stop for horses, with no warning signs, could present a danger.
Nelson said staff members in orange vests wait until they see no traffic, then stand by the road to warn any cars that approach while the horses cross.
She said the transportation department faxed her a letter saying no special permits were needed.
Nelson also sent the department a proposal to reduce traffic speed in the area, citing congestion from the tourists, hikers and fishermen who cross the highway near the border and Winchuck River.
Jim Risley, from the transportation departments Southwest Area office in Coquille, said the law doesnt address horses crossing the road, and no permit is needed.
He said his department looked into the specific situation on the border and was a little alarmed at the idea of up to 10 horses crossing that section of highway up to 10 times a day.
He said the business owner requested warning lights and lower speeds to make crossing safer, and traffic experts in the department are looking into it.
He said his department had heard no complaints about the operation, however.
As for neighbors complaints about manure on trails in Crissey Field caused by the trail rides, Nelson said she and her staff will now clean up the trails and beach several times a day.
She said they would pick up not only what their horses drop, but also any litter or debris they find, and will wear bright orange vests so their neighbors can see them out there working.
I just want to be a good neighbor, she said.