Plans for a county equestrian show ring are on hold while a new siteis being evaluated.

The original site, on the northern tip of theproposed Union Mills Reservoir north of Westminster, was deemed unacceptable because of wetlands regulations, said John P. Little, countyrecreation and parks director.

Now, the county's Equestrian Recreation Council is studying another nearby site, one with no apparent wetlands concerns. But the alternative site is a wooded area, and trees would have to be cut down andthe stumps removed for the ring, Little said.

Horse enthusiasts in the county have requested the show ring because the one at the Ag Center in Westminster often is not available for practices or is booked with other events. At the same time, Carroll's private clubs are either full or too expensive for some riders.

But Ronald F. Frederick, a resident near the two proposed sites, said both of the Saw Mill Road locations are not suitable, at least in part because the area's narrow, winding roads could not handle vehicles pulling horse trailers.

Frederick said the decision to study another spot in the same location after the original site was found unsuitable indicates the county wants to build a ring in the area, regardless of any opposition.

However, Little said the new site still must be studied carefully. Though the equestrian group has agreed to remove the timber from the site, he said, removing the stumps could make the cost prohibitive.

In addition, he said the Department of Public Work must decide whether the road is suitable for handling horse trailers.

"There area lot of things that have to be looked into," Little said. "(The stump removal) is just another issue that has to be dealt with. The question is, 'Is this going to be cost-effective?' "

Frederick said that if the county is intent on building such a facility, it should find a location with better road access. He previously has suggested an area off John Owings Road near the Hashawha Environmental Appreciation Center at the southern end of the proposed reservoir, a popular drop-off spot for riders using trails in that area.

The cost to the county for the $7,000 ring itself would be about $5,400, with the equestrian group donating additional money and all of the labor involved for construction under the county Self-Help Program.

The county and the equestrian group initially had planned to have a private developer build and manage a major show facility in the area, which would have included several indoor and outdoor rings, a 200-stall boarding facility, parking and possibly a tack shop and restaurant. The group said it had hoped such a facility would attract area riders looking for practice space or small shows, along with competitors in regional shows.

Two developers submitted bids for the project, but neither was accepted by the Equestrian Council because the proposals failed tomeet the group's requirements.

The group then proposed a smaller show ring, with costs split between the council and the Recreation and Parks Department.

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