TOWN OF JANESVILLE
The Janesville Town Board has given a horse rescue owner less than a month to create a timeline for how she will reduce the number of horses on her property by half.
Town officials gave that order after learning that DeeDee Golberg, owner of Spirit Horse Equine Rescue, is violating town ordinances by having more than double the permitted number of horses.
Board members said they learned Golberg was in violation after a complaint was made.
Golberg admitted to the board that she currently has 38 horses on her property and has housed 30 to 40 horses there over the last few years. Her 15-acre property is zoned A-2, which allows only one large farm animal per acre.
Town ordinances define a large farm animal as “any horse, head of cattle, pony, sheep, goat or hog.”
Golberg’s equine rescue has been in operation since 2008. Golberg said she spoke to the town board in 2013 and believed she was operating under the terms decided at that meeting five years ago.
Town Supervisor David Rebout said he thought in 2013 that Golberg would keep 15 horses on her land and send extra horses to foster homes.
Golberg said she understood the agreement differently and believed having more than 15 horses at her rescue operation was OK.
Supervisor Lon Coplien said the board should establish a timeline for when Golberg must be in compliance.
Town Chairman Bruce Schneider suggested Golberg present a timeline for removing other horses from her property by the next board meeting, which is Dec. 3.
Golberg agreed to do so and said she is considering applying for a conditional-use permit to keep more horses. Rebout said there is no guarantee the permit would be granted.
Spirit Horse turns down dozens of animals every year for lack of space, Golberg said. She said she might find foster homes for some of her horses, but it could be difficult.
The board’s order to Golberg comes nearly a year after the town sued two residents for having too many horses on their property.
The town sued Porsche and Jonathan Kettelhut in December 2017 for having two horses over their limit. The couple operate A Right to Life Animal and Equine Sanctuary on their property.
A judge sided with the town and ordered the Kettelhuts to pay $11,792 in legal fees to the town and a $500 fine.
The couple had been denied a conditional-use permit prior to the lawsuit.
Porsche Kettelhut asked the board Monday why Golberg should be allowed to have too many horses when she could not.
Schneider said he had just learned that Golberg was out of compliance and the board needed to discuss the issue before taking action.
The town “ripped me apart” for having too many horses, Kettelhut told the board. She said she believed the board treated Golberg more kindly than it treated her.
After heated discussion, Rebout asked Kettelhut to sit down, telling her “this isn’t about you.” Kettelhut disagreed.