Port Orange Stables: The Owners' Side of the Story
At their August 2 meeting, the Port Orange City Council cleared the way for a storage facility and a small retail business to be constructed on the site Port Orange Stables has called home since 1965. The ending of the stables was finalized by the council's 3-2 vote on the second reading of a rezoning ordinance.
Summing up the feelings of the community writ large, Mayor Don Burnette, who lives close to the stables, commented that he has "very mixed emotions" about the stables going away. He said, "I pass that horse farm at least twice a day coming and going to work. It's a beautiful, beautiful piece of property. But I also know some things are going to change and you can't make it stay the way it is if the people who own it are ready to move on. That's just the way it is."
The mayor is a good man who may have been given bad information. It doesn't seem the family wanted to move on.
"I still have dreams that I won the lottery and bought it (the stables) back before it was tore down." That quote comes from someone who is a member of the family that owns the stables.
She/he wished to remain anonymous. The quote continues, "Even if that happened, we would not be allowed to keep horses there anymore." (To be clear, at the Aug 2 meeting, city staff said it could continue as a stable.)
According to anonymous, the family "Wanted to re-develop it (the stables), but the city gave very few options. (The family) wanted to put a commercial strip out front and keep the horse barn in the back, but there was no way the city would approve." She/he is "very sad to sell the place and watch it get torn down in a year or two."
Anonymous responded to my inquiry for comment nineteen days after I contacted Port Orange Stables for a late July article on the topic. She/he had a lot to say about the city, their Port Orange neighbors and where the horses at the stable may be going.
She/he said the neighbor's complaints were "nerve-racking." She/he continued, "Anytime a horse laid down the humane society was called because people were concerned and I started telling them when they called, 'don't you lay down to sleep' and 'don't you lay down when you're on the beach?' Every time a horse (would) lay down they called me, the humane society, the police department, and everyone else. "
Per anonymous, the neighbors were not accustomed to the ways of horses. They were under the impression that the horses were dead when they were lying down. In reality, they were sleeping or resting. "That's the problem with having a horse stable in the city." She/he said. "People don't know about horses and call about every little thing."
In 2018 anonymous "refurbished the horse barn and spent $50,000 on inside renovations." She/he acknowledged, "It did not attract any new borders." The stables were only marginally profitable these past few years.
Barely being profitable, rising expenses, taxes, insurance, it wasn't going well financially. Covid made it go worse by necessitating the need for a second job to keep Port Orange Stables floating. "The reason I sold the stables is I got tired of working so many hours every day, " said anonymous.
She/he had more to say about the City of Port Orange and the neighbors. "When the city tells you you have to have engineering diagrams and complete construction plans of what materials and everything to use to put up a horse lean-to, the bank not loaning out money to a barn, and the neighbors who constantly complain about the smell of the manure and rodents, and the horses being there, in their neighborhood, why would anyone want to stay?"
The horses certainly aren't staying. Where they are going will be decided by the horse owners, not Port Orange Stables owners. "I assume most will move to Samsula," anonymous said. "There are many horse farms in Samsula and this was the last one in Port Orange."
Check this video for more information regarding the whys and wherefores of the August 2 vote and what is coming to the locale. It begins at the 24:13 mark.
Port Orange Stables has a goodbye summary on their website.
This is the July article I wrote about the matter.
Undated Port Orange Stables photo. Given it is in black & white, I will assume between 1965-1970.
(Photos courtesy of Port Orange Stables.)
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