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Zoning for Horses in Westchester County, New York

My husband is getting transferred to the New York area for work. It’s my understanding that properties 2 acres and up do allow horses there in some cases. It appears from my research that each municipality makes it’s own zoning rules, but I am having trouble finding those rules. Does anyone keep horses in Westchester and know the zoning rules - i.e. how many acres do you need and how many horses per acre? Specifically, we are looking in Pleasantville, Ossining, Croton-on-Hudson, Yorktown, and Cortlandt. One property which is just over 2 acres is limited to one horse according to the listing. Anyone know anything about applying for a zoning variance to keep two in a situation like that? Thanks for your help and advice!

I googled and found this link. I hope you have a large budget, that area is not cheap! My brother lives out there, but doesn’t have horses :slight_smile:


a) Two (2) acres of lot area shall be required for the first horse; one (1) acre of lot area shall be required for each horse after one (1).

(b) Barns and manure storage areas shall be located at least fifty (50) feet from each property line and one hundred fifty (150) feet from any existing residence other than that on the lot. Fences and all exercise yards or pasture lands shall be located at least five (5) feet from each property line. Abutting lots with common beneficial ownership shall be considered a single lot.

© All feed shall be housed in rodentproof containers.

(d) The boarding of ten (10) or more horses on any property requires the approval of a special permit by the Planning Board. (See § 125-78.)

(e) Riding instruction is permitted, provided that no paid advertising is used to announce such use and provided that instruction is limited to a single pupil at a time.

I just bought a horse property outside of Boston, but I grew up near where you’re moving to and have some general advice that I hope is helpful:

You’re right that horse keeping regulations are set by each town, so you have to check with each one, which is a hassle when real estate shopping. In many towns you’ll have to check their zoning/building regulations, and possibly board of health and conservation commission regulations, too. Incredibly, they are not all online, and you have to call each office. I have 7.5 acres, for example, with just a 1 acre area in the center where I could put a barn due to 200’ setbacks for wetlands. Be careful to understand things that impact property use. In my case, my money would’ve been much better spent on a wetlands delineation instead of a lawyer, for instance. I could’ve made that part of the pre-purchase deal.

Sometimes, state statutes on what constitutes a farm conflict with these local regulations. For the most part, properties lose their grandfathered status when they change hands, so many places in the northeast region that were once horse properties are no longer, once they sell. Watch out for that, too.

If you’re shopping from afar, and are from a less litigious part of the world, be very careful. You want to be happy, and that is best ensured by tons of research, visiting, and talking to people – neighbors and local horse people. I had one realtor who was a horse owner, and she was invaluable. The rest were full of crap.
Zoning variances are very hard to determine before you buy - lawyer up for that one, for sure! Good luck, it’s a pretty part of the world.

Workin’ on it, that’s for the Bedford Township, which is not exactly where we are looking. Frog Pond, I am a lawyer, but not that kind of lawyer. I have researched zoning, and so far Ossining and Yorktown allow horses if property is over 2 acres, Ossining is 1 horse per acre, Yorktown, one horse per half acre, New Castle just requires 1/2 acre per horse, no minimum. i have called Mount Pleasant and Cortlandt because even though I read their zoning codes over and over, they did not make any sense. Some require manure pile to be 200 feet from your neighbor or removed from the property, all have different regulations on how far a barn or shelter can be from the property line, but all require a stable. Looks like we have a few options, but I am still stumped on Cortlandt and Mt. Pleasant. Hopefully they will call me back. It’s expensive, but the market has declined some, and I am not finding a house on 2 or 3 acres verses 1 to be much costlier. I can’t believe how much it costs to board up there, and given that my mare is probably lame for good, the back yard seems like a good option. Thanks for responding. Definitely good to keep the size and shape of property, wetlands, etc, and all the rules about where the barn can be built and where the poop can be stored in mind.

I am just going to repeat what you already know, it is per the town. My town it is minimum five acres.

I hope the towns you called get back to you in a timely manner.

I would not count on getting a variance for anything around here. Expect to factor in the cost of a dumpster and weekly manure removal. Most towns require it. I know much less about the western towns, so can’t help with any specifics there.


Cortlandt called me back and they were very nice. No poop requirements. Stable only has to be 6 feet from property line. Minimum 2 acres, 1 acre per 1 horse, max of 4 horses unless you have 10 acres. Mt. Pleasant hasn’t called back yet. They are the one that could potentially need a variance. Weird thing is their zoning rules say nothing about the number of horses that can be housed. I told them that when I called, and that I am a lawyer, and that few people would want to keep one horse by itself, and they said they would check and call me back.

Joiedevie99, I do have to figure out how much a dumpster costs. None of the requirements were weekly removal. One said “at regular intervals.”

You can get a quote here: http://www.judgemanning.com/judge-manning-horse-manure-removal.html

OP, that’s great that you’re a lawyer – any kind! – it’ll surely help you read the bizarre twists and turns of code regulations :lol: One last thing I’ll add – the code differences definitely shaped which places we looked at, and where we bought. We ended up in a town that has clear, simple regulations and three of our five abutters have horses. Every time we visited, we saw people riding by on the road. After we moved in, our non-horse neighbors explained that they’d much rather have horse owning neighbors than subdivided properties and more houses. So, I hope you find such a place. Good luck.

Thanks so much. You guys have been a big help! I have never kept horses at home and would not have even thought of all this stuff. I emailed the manure removal place for a quote. Yes, our favorite property at the moment is walking distance to horse trails and one of my friends tells me horses are kept on the street. I hope his job offer gets finalized in time for us to potentially put in an offer on that house (of course we need to see it and like it first). Have missed riding so much since my girl went lame a year ago and really looking forward to being able to do this.