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Boy and his horse create a standoff over land rights

LEHI — Do homeowner rights end with a fence line?

That is the question plaguing a Lehi neighborhood that is growing divided over a boy, his horse and the neighbor who wants to separate them.

That neighbor, Roger Wilkins, distributed a three-page letter Wednesday explaining his objection to a request filed by his neighbors, Tim and DaraLynn Hunsaker, to rezone their property so that a horse could remain on their land.

In the letter, Wilkins admits frustration with recent media coverage that has centered on the Hunsakers' unique situation — son, Dallin, uses his horse as part of daily therapy treatments for his cerebral palsy — without citing the negatives of living next to a smelly giant.

"I feel for the little boy. I am deaf myself and understand his handicap," Wilkins writes in the letter. "Our problems (is) that there is a strong smell from the horse that Tim has there."

To help control the smell, Wilkins claims he offered the Hunsakers a compromise, which required a contract making provisions for a buffer zone between the horse property and Wilkins' yard. While Wilkins said the Hunsakers agreed to a 13-foot buffer zone, they refused to sign a contract.

"Since it is so important for him to get therapy for his boy, I thought he would be willing to reach an agreement," Wilkins said.

The Hunsakers, however, don't see a need for a contract. They claim they moved to their Lehi home under the impression it was zoned for horse property. When it was discovered his property had no animal rights, Tim Hunsaker said he immediately contacted the city to request the necessary zoning change.

While the Planning Commission unanimously approved the change, the Lehi City Council voted 3-2 to deny the request.

"We're not mad at the entire city — just disappointed with a few city councilmen," Tim Hunsaker said previously. "I love Lehi. I wouldn't live anywhere else."

After reading Wilkins' letter, however, the Hunsakers expressed frustration, though they declined to comment further on the matter. Their focus, Hunsaker said, remains on providing Dallin with the best treatment possible.

So, does one homeowner's rights end where another's begins? The answer appears hazy, said Mayor Ken Greenwood. Both the Wilkins and the Hunsakers have valid concerns, though they seem to contradict each other.

"I am very frustrated with the situation," Greenwood said. "I can understand why the city council voted the way they did and I appreciate how they voted. I also feel for the young boy."

With no immediate solutions, however, the debate continues on, as city officials look for a way to satisfy both parties and neighbors mull the respective arguments proffered by the two families.

"I would still be willing to agree to a compromise," Wilkins said. "We are trying to be reasonable in this difficult situation."


E-mail: lsanderson@desnews.com