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Horse-drawn carriages are still allowed in Cincinnati — for now

Creative Commons

An effort to ban horse-drawn carriages in Cincinnati failed a council vote Wednesday. Council Member Chris Seelbach says he's been working on an ordinance to prohibit animal-drawn carriages for commercial purpose for at least seven years.

His proposal failed with a 5-4 vote.

"I'm very, very confident that the next council will vote the right way in just two months," Seelbach says. "So fret not to the hundreds, maybe a thousand, that emailed us asking us to do this. It is still going to happen."

Seelbach says there are only six licenses for horse-drawn carriages, all for a single company. He says businesses Downtown have complained about manure in the streets, and says it's inhumane for horses to spend up to 15 hours a day pulling a carriage on concrete and asphalt.

Council members Betsy Sundermann, Greg Landsman, and Jan-Michele Lemon Kearney joined Seelbach in voting for the ordinance. Council members Wendell Young, Christopher Smitherman, David Mann, and Interim Members Liz Keating and Steve Goodin voted against it. None offered comments about their opposition in council Wednesday or in committee Tuesday.

In a statement Wednesday night, Keating said she's concerned about the implications of the vote.

"It only takes 5 members of council to decide they don’t like a company (or this case, an entire industry) and put them out of business. I don’t think that’s good government," Keating said. "A better use of our position would be to bring the business owners to the table with animal rights activists, concerned citizens, and others and give them a chance to address the concerns. Another option would be creating stricter guidelines around safety in order to carry a license to operate within the city."

Seelbach is wrapping up three terms on council at the end of the year. Six new council members take office in January. Of the five council members who voted against the ordinance, Keating is the only one who will still be in office in January.

Corrected: November 10, 2021 at 6:16 PM EST
A previous version of this article misstated Seelbach's time in office. It has been corrected.
Local Government Reporter with a particular focus on Cincinnati; experienced journalist in public radio and television throughout the Midwest. Enthusiastic about: civic engagement, public libraries, and urban planning.