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RESEDA : Zoning Board Rules Against Petting Zoo

September 01, 1993|JILL LEOVY

Supporters of The Farm, a Reseda petting zoo and pony ride business in Reseda, invoked everything from the therapeutic value of animals to preservation of local history in their defense of the 1.5-acre business. But the Los Angeles Board of Zoning Appeals ruled against it anyway.

By a unanimous vote, the board struck down farm owner Linda Menary's appeal of a previous ruling against her business, which is threatened with closure.

The ruling means that Menary, who has been trying to obtain a conditional use permit for the business, is nearing the end of her options after receiving repeated setbacks at the hands of city zoning officials.

Menary's business has operated near that part of Reseda for years. But her present location at 8108 Tampa Ave., where she moved in 1988, has suburban homes on three sides. Controversy around it has grown, with neighbors complaining of smells, and flies facing off with parents who bring children to ride the ponies.

Board members Tuesday deliberated only briefly before ruling that Menary's business does not belong in the single-family neighborhood. All three said they were influenced by city officials from other departments, who contend that Menary's past record of complying with city codes is poor.

For Menary, the decision came as no surprise. "I expected to lose because the city agencies are out to get me," she said, adding that she plans to appeal the case to the City Council and to court if necessary.

Among her detractors at Tuesday's hearing was Denise Binder, planning deputy to City Councilwoman Laura Chick. "The case before you is not about children and ponies," Binder testified. "It's about trust, proper care of animals and compliance with zoning laws."

After the hearing, Binder's statement was the subject of comments from Menary supporters, who said they felt betrayed by Chick.

The board, however, appeared influenced by animal regulatory supervisor Richard Felosky, who railed against Menary's animal husbandry practices, at one point comparing The Farm to "Noah's Ark."

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