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Washington County reigns in, evaluates, horse boarding legislation

Washington County has reigned in the decision surrounding the reclassification of horse boarding facilities until they have undertaken a study evaluating the issue.

Earlier this year, the Washington County Assessor's Office reclassified properties where horse boarding and training occur from agricultural to commercial.

This reclassification has resulted in significant increases in property taxes for those properties and could ultimately run horse boarders out of business.

Shortly after the reclassification occurred, the cities of Grant, Hugo and May Township drafted resolutions combating this reclassification. The Afton City Council passed a similar resolution at its June 16 meeting.

"Afton intends to remain a predominantly rural community and continues to support legislation and policies that promote open space, agriculture and related activities," Afton mayor, Pat Snyder, said.

The resolutions state that the preservation of rural character includes agricultural operations which includes horse boarding and training operations. The resolutions also say that the economic nature of horses in Washington County is more consistent with an agricultural classification than a commercial classification.

After much discussion, the legislature decided the best action would be to delay the decision and to direct the Commissioner of Revenue to undertake a study into the issue.

The County Board of Appeal and Equalization approved this recommendation at its June 23 meeting.

This approval, reverted the properties affected by the reclassification back to their previous classification of agricultural.

The County Board of Appeal and Equalization will not review the issue any further until the study has been completed.

The county Department of Property Records and Taxpayer Services will monitor the horse operation study efforts through the fall, and in 2010 the issue will be revisited.

Kispert can be reached at akispert@woodburybulletin. com

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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