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An Equestrian Park?

City plans to enforce 2002 ordinance on carriage parking.

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Carriage company owners were told recently that they couldn't keep horsing around near Beale Street.

The city plans to remove the carriage parking signs near Beale as part of the 2002 City Council ordinance that prohibits carriages from parking within 100 feet of a restaurant. In Chancery Court, the 100-foot restriction was deemed legal but the provision that carriages could park close if nearby restaurants approved was struck down. And though the case is under appeal, the signs are coming down nonetheless.

Memphis city attorney Sara Hall said a request to have the ordinance stayed pending the appeal was denied, so the ordinance is enforceable until another court overrules it.

"We had gotten a call from a major in the police department who said some of the signs on Beale don't comply with the law," she said. "We determined that those signs were not in compliance, so they're being taken down."

Carriage owners are now fearing the worst.

"For several years, we've been trying to get more parking spaces," said Scott Williams, owner of Carriage Rides of Memphis. "The fact is, we don't have many spots."

There are about 40 licensed carriages in the city and, after the signs are removed, there will be only a handful of parking spots for all of them, according to Williams.

"Each year we have to pay the city for a license," said Williams. "When the signs come down, there will be five legal spaces. The city is charging us a fee for licenses, but will not give us any place to park. Where are we supposed to park? No one has been able to answer that."

David Sydnor, owner of the American Chariot carriage company, worries the new development will result in the death of one or more of the horses. "Once the signs come down, they'll start ticketing, arresting, and impounding our carriages. Our only option will be to circle the block," he said. "[The horses] are not machines. There's been no regard for the animals." n

E-mail: cashiola@memphisflyer.com

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