Riding center is sold, despite community outcry

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Photo of sign before the sale was finalized

Updated Wednesday, Sept. 19

EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP ­­– Despite pleas from concerned parties during the summer, the Atlantic Riding Center for Health has been sold. The settlement was Friday, Sept. 7.

Today, rather than reading “ARCH,” the sign simply reads “RC.” A few horses being boarded there are still out to pasture in the front fields, but the front gate is closed and a "No Trespassing: Private Property" sign is posted just beyond the gate.

The last day for lessons for the nearly 30 riders remaining was Aug. 29.

 

Board of Directors member Mary Ann Wagner, who also acted as agent for the buyer and seller, said the new owner is not sure what his plans for the property are yet. In a phone interview with The Current on Friday, Sept. 14, Wagner said she did not feel comfortable publicly disclosing the name of the seller until the transaction becomes public information, but said, "He's a really nice guy.

"I am not sure what his plans are. Right now he is just chilling out and then he will decide," she said. "He's a nice man and good things are sure to happen there."

Wagner said the proceeds from the sale will be dispersed in "accordance to the bylaws" and the law, which stipulates that a nonprofit donate its remaining funds to other like charities.

"We will help a lot of people with it," Wagner said.

 Board member and ARCH attorney Robert Reilert said during an interview on Monday, Sept. 17 that most of the approximately 30 riders that remained at the program have “gone next door” to former executive director Sue Adams’ program called Hearts Riding Center, but still doubted the legality of the operation.

 The question of whether her parcel was zoned for a riding facility was raised during the July meeting of the Township Committee in July during which the issues between the board and concerned parties were aired publicly.

 “I think what they did was look the other way, in my understanding,” Reilert said of the township’s allowing Adams to run the operation on her residential property.

 However, according to Township Administrator Peter Miller, the zoning officer deemed it to be an approved use for the property.

As for the future of the ARCH property, Miller said township ordinance allow for the new owner to request a use variance by the Zoning Board from its current use as a nonprofit therapeutic riding center or from its previous zoned use as a residential parcel though he expects that any request would have to face a public hearing.

 The property sold for $410,000, which after satisfying the remaining mortgage balance of approximately $200,000, closing costs and Wagner’s commissions, leaves $190,000.

 Reilert said Wagner was entitled to the commission, listed as 6 percent on the multiple listing service.  He said ARCH’s bylaws allow board members to profit from the operation of the nonprofit. “In fact having a board member in that position is helpful because they are much better at marketing. We didn’t really see any reason not to do the listing that way. It was simpler and ultimately very effective.”

 Board President Ann Cancelmo said Monday the outrage of the sale was from a lack of understanding, but admits they kept in communication with only with those who were involved directly with the operations of ARCH rather than share details publicly until now.  “When people don’t know the facts, it snowballs. There was a lot of time we spent trying to educate the public because there were so many questions, so many assumptions, and so many opinions without contacting the people who know.”

  She said the sale has upset people not because of the end of the riding program, but for other reasons.
“It’s really not about the kids because the kids can go to other programs. It’s amazing how many there are now. These kids aren’t just local,” she said. “But it is sad. It was someone’s dream that actually happened.”

 Reilert said the board is scheduled to meet next week to create a plan on how they will distribute and to whom to give money. Preference is Atlantic County-based charities, but other horse programs are not in our area. Organizations who would like to submit a request for funding can send an email to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

 

Read more: 

What happened to ARCH?

Mayor asks riding center board to meet with concerned parties

Questions mount over riding center sale

Riding center under contract in 15 days

Riding center for sale

 

 


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