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Palm Beach Florida Officials Outlaw Horse-Drawn Carriages
Contributed by Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages
The Beach City Council has outlawed all horse-drawn carriages and the riding or driving of any animals along Front Beach Road except with parade permits.
The action comes as a result of recent inquiries about starting a Beach business using horse-drawn carriages, similar to those in New Orleans or St. Augustine, City Manager Richard Jackson said.
Previously, the Beach operated under an ordinance that prohibited operating horse-drawn carriages along the beach from March 1 through Sept. 30.
Recently, however, the city's growth along Front Beach Road has been exponential, fueled in large part by intense development, city officials said.
Because of the growth, Mel Leonard, city director of planning and building, said Wednesday that the presence of animal-drawn vehicles, even in the winter months, is incompatible with the safe operation of motor vehicles.
"It would really become a safety hazard, even in the off-season," said Leonard, who has received several inquiries about operating such a business.
Back in mid-1998, Beach council members considered approving horse buggy rides for tourists on Front Beach Road and South Thomas Drive.
A proposed 1998 ordinance mirrored the one St. Augustine used to govern its carriage operators, and some business owners brought in a Clydesdale-type horse and 15-person carriage worth thousands of dollars to begin operations.
But the idea was quickly shut down after animal rights groups, including the Animal Rights Foundation of Florida Inc. and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, urged rejection of the ordinance, saying the heat and humidity and dangers from accidents made it impractical.
As late as February of last year, city officials were discussing the possibility of using horse-drawn carriages along Front Beach Road as part of an annual "winter festival" in conjunction with Pier Park.
Jackson said horse-drawn carriages could still be used for one-time events, such as a Beach winter festival, with the issuing of a special permit.
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