Public hearing on Lowell Friday horse permit request

Lowell Friday would like to have 27 horses on his East Bethel property, but city staff are recommending against this because of alleged past practices of cruelty to animals.

A public hearing overseen by  retired judge J.E. Cass will be held at 9 a.m. Monday, May 14 at East Bethel City Hall. The topic is Friday’s Interim Use Permit (IUP) request to have 27 horses on properties totalling 25.1-acres.

According to City Attorney Mark Vierling, Friday applied for an IUP on March 16, which was just two days before his former permit to keep the horses expired on March 18. Due to the short lead time, the East Bethel City Council April 4 unanimously demanded that he remove the 27 horses from his property. He was given the option to go through the IUP review and public hearing process again, but of course there were no guarantees he could get the horses back.

Friday filed a joint application with Mary Haivala, who told the city that she lives at Friday’s property and signed a management, care and custody control contract with Friday to watch over the horses. The agreement was signed on Jan. 15, which was just six days after city of East Bethel prosecutor Jennifer Nodes charged Friday in Anoka County District Court with 35 gross misdemeanor counts for the alleged mistreatment of animals.

City staff recommends that Friday not be allowed to have horses on his property. A staff memo cited that Friday was charged with animal cruelty in October 2007. In late August and mid-November of last year, the Animal Humane Society and Anoka County Sheriff’s Office removed a total of 17 horses from his property after Humane Society investigator Keith Streff and veterinarians Dr. Jeff Johnson and Dr. Genevieve Bergman observed that the horses and their boarding areas were in poor condition, according to a criminal complaint filed in Anoka County District Court.

“Applicant has demonstrated an inability to properly and consistently care for the horses,” the East Bethel May 14 staff memo stated regarding the IUP request.

Haivala wrote in a letter to the city that she has been around horses since she was two or three years old and started working around different stables since she turned 18. She has worked at a few different boarding and riding stables. She said her job duties for Friday would include maintaining the dietary needs of the horses, cleaning the pens, making sure they have fresh water, repairing fences and buildings as needed, and so on. The contract with Friday stated she would be paid $500 per month in exchange for rent. Half of the money coming from horses sold would be applied toward current and future rent that Haivala would have paid Friday.

City staff is not convinced that this arrangement will provide quality and consistent care needed to comply with city ordinance requirements, according to the staff memo.

Eric Hagen is at eric.hagen@ecm-inc.com

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