On Aug. 15, New Albany Farms residents thought they had won a battle to prevent a commercial horse-boarding facility from locating on the south end of their subdivision.

On Aug. 15, New Albany Farms residents thought they had won a battle to prevent a commercial horse-boarding facility from locating on the south end of their subdivision.

But on Aug. 16, New Albany City Council threw them a curve when members voted 5-0 to table a zoning-change request for the property and asked them to negotiate with the property owner. Council members Chip Fellows and Stephen Pleasnick were absent for the vote.

Zoning attorney Ben Hale, who lives in New Albany but not in the subdivision, asked council for a chance to determine if the neighbors and the property owner, One New Albany Farms LLC, could come to an agreement about the property's use.

"I think it's easy to come to the conclusion that this is not resolved," Hale told council. "I think it is resolvable."

New Albany Farms residents have opposed two applications that were filed with the city:

The zoning-change request that would have consolidated the zoning designation of two properties - one zoned for limited agricultural use and one residential - into a single limited agricultural district. The 12.275 acres, which includes both properties, is at the northeast corner of Morse and Reynoldsburg-New Albany roads.

A conditional-use permit application to allow horse-boarding facilities on the site.

The New Albany Planning Commission reviewed both applications Aug. 15.

The commission voted 3-1 against recommending council approval of the zoning change. It also denied the conditional-use permit, 4-0.

Council cannot reverse the decision on the conditional-use permit but it can accept the zoning-change request, even if the planning commission recommended against it, according to the city's legal counsel. City attorney Mitch Banchefsky said the applicant could apply for another conditional-use permit for the property at any time.

Brian Zets, an attorney with the Wiles, Boyle, Burkholder & Bringardner law firm representing One New Albany Farms, asked council to table the zoning-change application Aug. 16 until all the testimony from the Aug. 15 planning commission hearing could be reviewed. Zets had a court reporter at the planning commission meeting, which was almost five hours long. Most of the time was spent on the two applications.

Zets said for council to understand all the amendments made to the applications and understand all of the testimony, members should take time to review the meeting minutes. Kathryn Meyer, the city's deputy community development director, confirmed that the meeting minutes were not complete before the Aug. 16 council meeting.

New Albany Farms resident Tara Gittins spoke against tabling the zoning-change application.

"The facts are not going to change," she said. "(My home is) not going to get any farther away."

New Albany farms resident Scott Dehm agreed that a lot of time already has been put into the issue.

"I think you would be well served to finish this business," Dehm said Aug. 16.

Subdivision resident Mary Luise Marx and attorney Angela Lanctot, who was representing Tara and Jeffrey Gittins, also spoke against tabling the application.

Council member Colleen Briscoe, who is council's liaison to the planning commission, said one of the critical issues in the application is the potential for a commercial use on the site.

She asked Hale if he could take that out of the application. Hale said it was possible.

"The property owner does have the right to have horses there," Briscoe said. "If you can get some screening for the Gittinses and take the commercial use out, I would be inclined to table this and see if you can get something better there."

New Albany Farms residents have said in public meetings that using that property for boarding horses will lower their property values and goes against the original intention of the limited agriculture zoning on eight of the 12.275 acres. A former property owner, Bobby Rahal, once used the 8-acre property to keep four horses and a pony.

Tara Gittins has been the most vocal opponent, and she is the closest property owner. She told the planning commission that the fence on her property line is only 20 yards from the barn in which the horses would be boarded. She showed the commission members photos of the barn and trucks delivering hay to give them some perspective on what she sees now from her backyard.

Lanctot also raised several issues during the planning commission hearing about the One New Albany Farms property. She said deed restrictions would prevent three of the 12.275 acres from being combined with the rest of the land in a limited agricultural district. She also questioned the use of the entire property, asking about animal grazing.

Zets maintains that there already is a limited agricultural zoning on eight of the 12.275 acres, which already allows for many of the uses the subdivision residents are resisting. He said that the text his client is requesting is more restrictive, since he agreed Aug. 15 to narrow the uses to animal boarding, growing crops and planting trees. He said he would agree to limit uses to boarding horses only, which would prevent the owner from bringing in chickens or other farm animals.

One New Albany Farms purchased the property in January, according to the Franklin County Auditor's office. At one time, the owner was working with Bella Vista LLC to establish a part-time veterinary clinic on the site, but One New Albany Farms elected to remove that use from the conditional-use permit application in June.