East Bethel’s resident’s request for horses denied again

The East Bethel City Council once again shot down a request from Lowell Friday to have 27 horses on his property.

The council June 20 on a 4-0 vote denied an interim use permit (IUP) request that Friday filed. Councilmember Steve Voss was absent from this meeting.

In its resolution denying the IUP, the council stated that Friday or the person he hired earlier this year had not demonstrated the ability to comply with the city’s regulations.

The city hired retired Judge J.E. Cass to conduct a May 14 hearing on Friday’s IUP application. His findings summarized the history of animal cruelty complaints that led to a conviction in 2009 on one misdemeanor count of overworking and mistreating animals and most recently resulted in Friday facing 35 counts of animal cruelty charges that have been downgraded from gross misdemeanors to misdemeanors.

The most recent charges came after the Animal Humane Society and Anoka County Sheriff’s Office removed a total of 17 horses from Friday’s property between August and mid-November 2011.

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.

The criminal case is still pending, so Friday’s attorneys asked Cass to delay the May 14 hearing and allow Friday to reach a settlement with the city.

The city declined to negotiate a settlement with Friday, Planning Director Stephanie Hanson and City Attorney Mark Vierling said at the hearing.

Friday had signed a contract with Mary Haivala Jan. 15 that stated she would care for the horses.

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.

Cass wrote in his findings that Haivala lacks the education or professional qualifications to manage a horse herd of the size that Friday was requesting.

Cass recommended that the council deny Friday’s IUP application.

During the public forum portion of the June 20 meeting, Friday actually tried to withdraw his IUP application.

Vierling said it was up to the council to decide if this IUP request could be withdrawn and he suggested the council still vote.

If the council allowed the application to be withdrawn, Friday could have technically come to city hall the next day and fill out another IUP application and the city would have to go through the whole process again.

The council had looked at Friday’s request to have 27 horses at its April 4 meeting. However, Friday had filled out the IUP application just two days before his previous IUP expired, according to Vierling.

This did not give city staff enough time to go through the planning process, so his old IUP expired and the council April 4 ruled that he had to remove the 27 horses from his property,

But this move by the council did not preclude Friday from filling out another application.

After the council denied Friday’s most recent IUP application, he requested that City Administrator Jack Davis send a copy of the city’s findings to his lawyers.

Eric Hagen is at
[email protected]