Latah County said disputed land adjacent to a horse sanctuary cannot be sub-divided as previously claimed by the owner and in a press release.
The press release asserted that the land next to Orphan Acres in Viola, Idaho, was starting to be sub-divided and would be developed unless purchased within the week for $265,000 forcing the horse sanctuary to reduce operations.
Brent Glover, the president and founder of the horse sanctuary, said in an interview with The Daily Evergreen that he is asking for donations from the community to help cover the cost of purchasing the land within the week.
However, the 106-acre plot adjacent to the 50-acre Orphan Acres is not zoned for residential use, but is an agricultural forest zone said Jason Boal, an associate planner for Latah County. The land therefore cannot be used for anything other than agricultural purposes.
The zoning requirements could be changed, though, if Mark Merrell the owner of the land beside Orphan Acres petitioned for it, Boal said. But, at the least it would be four to six months before the zoning requirements changed and at worst it could never happen. Merrell has yet to even file for a zoning change.
Tyler L. Fryberger, a University of Idaho junior
public relations major, wrote the press release and is a member of an unofficial committee to help raise funds so Orphan Acres can purchase Merrell’s land. Fryberger said he received the information from Glover.
In a Moscow-Pullman Daily News story, Glover said he has set up an Orphan Acres Land Fund to collect donations.
According to the press release, ground for development has already been broken.
Merrell said he is not sub-dividing the land but making preparations for it. He has begun to clear the land and build some roads even though he has yet to find a potential buyer and has yet to file for rezoning.
Despite the urgent request for funds, Glover said he knew that Merrell could not
sub-divide the land before rezoning. Glover attempted to purchase the land years before he said, but Merrell bought it first.
“A week after buying the land, he called me and tried to sell it for $360,000,” he said.
That is nearly $200,000 more than Merrell originally purchased it for, he said. Now Merrell realizes he bought a “lemon” and is trying to pawn it off by using sub-division as a threat, he said.
Merrell said the two of them never agreed upon a set amount or time limit for purchasing the land.
“I don’t believe he will ever purchase the property, and it’s not worth my time bothering about it,” Merrell said.
If purchased, Glover plans to use the land as a facility for people with disabilities and war-torn veterans, Glover said.