Spurred on by a Church Street resident’s email, City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz brought an ordinance prohibiting horse-drawn carriages in Evanston, as well as any other “vehicle, carriage, or other apparatus which is powered or propelled by an animal independent of or in conjunction with a mechanized means of power propulsion.”
A skeptical Human Services Committee on Dec. 4 kept the measure penned up in committee for additional tweaks, and perhaps expansion of its scope. “What is the impetus for this ordinance?” asked Alderman Eleanor Revelle, 7th Ward. “What problem are we trying to solve here?” echoed Alderman Peter Braithwaite, 2nd Ward.
Mr. Bobkiewicz reported receiving an email detailing an encounter between a resident and a horse drawn carriage on Oct. 21. “I don’t know that I’ve ever seen [a horse-drawn carriage in Evanston],” he said, but he indicated community standards are such that the practice should be prohibited due to traffic, manure, and similar concerns.
Speaking at citizen comment, Dan Joseph expressed concern over the narrow path the ordinance sought to tread. “If Mary and Joseph ride into town on a donkey, or the Maharajah on an elephant, on the Lone Ranger on Silver, that’s permitted,” he said.
“Can we add in, if someone wants to ride their horse down the street?” that is prohibited as well, asked Alderman Cicely Fleming, 9th Ward.
“I know we have horse provisions in the code,” said Mr. Bobkiewicz.
“Can I add a few additional provisions?” asked Ald. Braithwaite, saying he wanted to carve out exceptions for school carnivals and pony rides. The proposed ordinance already permitted animal-drawn vehicles during parades.
Betty Landis, minister of St. Paul’s Lutheran, who said she attended the meeting for other reasons, noted that she recently officiated a wedding at which “it was the bride’s wish that the groom” and bride arrive at church in a horse-drawn carriage. The groom honored her wish. “You might want to think about this,” said Rev. Landis.
It is unclear how the proposed new ordinance would interact with Section 3-11 of the Evanston Code, which defines a wagoner vehicle peddler to include “those peddling goods, wares, or merchandise by means of… a horse-drawn vehicle.” Or Section 7-10-8, which allows residents to obtain a permit to “ride any horse on any driveway, roadway, path or trail, park property.”
Mr. Bobkiewicz asked whether the committee wished to forward the measure on to Council with suggested tweaks, but Committee Chair Braithwaite demurred. “I’d like it to go back to staff,” then return to the Committee for further review, he said. The Committee members agreed. For the time being, wishful brides need worry not. No law prohibits their horse and carriage dreams – for the moment.