Horses in Holly?  Champ’s Arrival Could Prompt Village Ordinance Change

Horses in Holly?  Champ’s Arrival Could Prompt Village Ordinance Change

(Crystal A. Proxmire, June 25, 2021)

Holly, MI – Residents in Holly could welcome new neigh-bors if Village Council members vote to amend section 90.03 of Chapter IX of the village code to allow residents with sufficient land size to keep horses on their property.

The idea was brought to Village Manager Jerry Walker by a brand new resident, Sarah Roch who moved to the community from Traverse City with her family – including an 11 year old Tennessee Walker named Champ.

Champ currently stays at Pinnacle Point Farm in Goodrich, but Roch is hoping that with the ordinance change she’ll be able to have her horse at home, and “Once Champ gets moved here, we will then get him a buddy to live the rest of his years here with us.”

Currently the ordinance prohibits farm animals of any kind with the exception of rabbits and chickens.  Holly Village Council will consider an amendment to the ordinance at their July 13, 2021 meeting.  The final language has yet to be approved by the Village attorney, but according to Walker it’s likely that “The amendment to the ordinance basically will state that a property owner of at least two acres within the Village may have one horse per acre for personal and recreational use. So if you own two acres, you can have two horses.  Four acres, four horses, etc.”

“Certainly a horse does not need a full acre to be kept correctly but the requirements insure that horses will not be kept on the village’s traditional small residential lot,” Walker said. “Personally, I think this will add a great dynamic to the village and those wishing to own horses will be able to do so in appropriate areas of the village.”

The ordinance does not set any requirements for the animals’ accommodations, though if any buildings are constructed they must go through the typical permit process. Matters of care and safety would be addressed through Oakland County Animal Control or the Humane Society, according to Walker.

Roch hopes she and Champ can explore the Holly area together.   “What I enjoy about having a horse is going out and riding and exploring the trails with him. It’s a crazy feeling being on the back of a huge animal and having complete control. My favorite part is cantering in a wide open field and letting him stretch his legs and run free! Plus, my boy is so so sweet, he is like a giant dog. It’s truly a rewarding feeling when you have a connection with a horse. I’m hoping to find some good riding trails around here and find that perfect open field where he can get up and go!”

Being an advocate and getting an ordinance change before the council was much easier than Roch expected.  “Ever since I bought my horse 6 years ago, I’ve always wanted him on my property– and I finally got the perfect property for him! Honestly, If I was trying to do this in Traverse City– it would have never happened, so I was thinking that it was probably going to get turned down. From the start, I don’t know how many times Jerry said he was my advocate and I 100% agree, he was definitely my advocate and very supportive,” she said.

“I was new to the Village and I wasn’t sure how this small town would react to someone just moving here wanting to change an ordinance already when I haven’t even lived here for three months! The entire Commission and Board was so supportive and very helpful, I honestly feel so blessed to live in this Village and to call it home!”

Like the Champ she’s rooting for, Roch is proud she stepped up to ask for the change that will help her family, and others who want to keep horses of their own.  “Don’t give up on something you think someone will turn down. There are always resources out there to help you, and if you want something bad enough, keep pushing!” she said.

Ordinance language will be available in the Village Council packet prior to the July 13, 2021 meeting. Check out the Village of Holly website for the latest meeting information.

Note: A previous of this version had an incorrect last name, and has been updated.

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