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River Valley Riders riding forward

The River Valley Riders finally had a public hearing before the Afton Planning Commission for their proposed outdoor riding arena.

Two earlier attempts at a hearing were both postponed because of the planning commission's failure to have a quorum of its members present.

River Valley Riders is a non-profit corporation that provides horse-related activities, including therapeutic riding and driving to children and adults, by addressing needs in the areas of physical, sensory, neurological and mental health.

At its March 2 meeting, the planning commission approved the group's request for a conditional use permit to construct an outdoor riding arena, parking area, a small shelter, fencing, outdoor lighting system and outdoor bathroom facilities in Afton.

Several conditions were placed on the CUP, however, addressing parking, lighting, stormwater management, signage, waste removal and disguising the outdoor bathroom facility with vegetation and shrubbery.

This is only the first phase of the entire project. The, group plans to construct a more permanent facility since they are currently operating out of the Washington County Fairgrounds.

The long term plan, proposed to be completed by 2013, will consist of an indoor housing and riding area, a septic system, a residence for the caretaker, stables to board a maximum of 15 horses and fencing for horse pastures.

Once the project reaches the final phase, the outdoor riding arena will be turned into pasture.

Neighboring residents of the proposed facility attended the public hearing and voiced their concerns over the proposed outdoor lighting, noise and drainage management.

The Afton City Council will review the CUP application and decide whether to approve it at its March 17 meeting.

Amber Kispert-Smith

Amber Kispert-Smith has been the schools and Afton reporter at the Woodbury Bulletin since 2008. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota. She previously worked as a reporter for Press Publications in White Bear Lake.

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