When we moved out of the suburbs and into our small town, we were so glad to be done with HOAs (home owner's associations), nosy neighbors, and the like. What we didn't know at the time is that people who live "in the country" are about the nosiest people on the planet.
Only a few months after moving, we knew almost everyone on our mile-long street. People here are super nice, but they are also incredibly in-your-face. They know where you work, they'll ask about your latest remodel project, the car that's occasionally parked in your driveway, when your in-laws are coming back to visit, how your horses are doing, etc. etc. etc. It's nice that they care, but a little privacy would be good too!
Still, we are respectful. We are polite. We work hard to fix our place up, because it was really not in great shape when we bought it. We want it to look nice, because we want to live in a nice place that we are proud to call home. We are especially conscientious because we have four horses on small acreage. I muck at least 2x/day, including barn, pastures, and track. We keep some manure in a small compost pile (for the garden), but most of it goes into a special trailer, which we keep covered with a tarp to limit the smell (and bugs). We haul it off weekly to a couple that is using it to terraform their property. The horses are on a feed-through fly control, plus we have traps out. We'll put out fly predators too when it gets a bit warmer. Our pastures are carefully grazed, and we've reseeded them as needed. When it rains, I keep the horses in the barn so they don't create a muddy mess out of the land.
In short, we work our butts off to keep our place nice. We try really, REALLY hard not to be the cause of any complaints with our neighbors. So you can imagine our upset when a member from the city environmental council called to inform us that someone had suggested that an ordinance be passed limiting each property to one horse. What's worse is that this was suggested by a fellow horse owner on our street (who happens to have one horse).
Of course, there was more to the story. It turns out that a neighbor two houses down brought home four horses and stuck them in a pasture in his backyard just before the winter rains started. In a matter of days, they were up to their hocks in mud, the pasture wasn't being mucked, and with the warm weather we've been having, the flies and the smell were awful. Their neighbor behind them, who owns one horse, as well as their next-door neighbor, were understandably upset by this. Since this is a small town, they took their complaints directly to the mayor, who in turn brought it up with the city council. Awesome.
The icing on the cake is that the guy has a huge 6 horse trailer, and the way he has to park is so that it's on his driveway (and not in the mud), it's the first thing you see when you turn onto our street. Apparently that's been a compliant too, so now there's an item for the next city council meeting to limit trailer and RV parking.
The city actually does have rules in place governing animal ownership, which basically state that the animals must be cared for properly. It's an open interpretation to what "properly" means, of course. However, I'm hoping that by us demonstrating that horses can be kept tidily on small acreage with minimal impact to the land, the city will take exception with our neighbor and require him to clean up his act. It's certainly a better solution than passing ordinances or zoning that would affect all horse owners in the city - namely, all the rest of us that are not a source of contention with our neighbors.
The council meeting is "sometime in March", and you can bet your socks we'll be there to defend our right to keep our horses at home. After all, that's why we bought this place and have been working so hard to make it our little dream farmlet. I'll be damned if we're going to let someone ruin it for us.