The 13-week Traverse City Horse Shows series will run as planned this summer, after show management and government officials reached an agreement on issues that had threatened to cancel this year’s competition.
The shows will be allowed to start June 8, as scheduled, under an agreement announced Thursday between TCHS and officials in Acme Township, Michigan, where the show’s Flintfields Horse Park is located. The agreement stipulates show management will complete health, safety and environment-related improvements required by the township by June 2, and will be allowed to delay completion of other specified requirements until Nov. 15, two months after the 2022 season ends.
The agreement comes after town officials notified TCHS on May 9 that the show’s special use permit, granted by the township to allow the show to run, would be suspended if organizers didn’t resolve zoning violations related to issues such as management of traffic, dust and debris that had been identified prior to the 2021 show season.
“This agreement is driven by TCHS’ acknowledged inability to complete all conditions and requirements of its Special Use Permit before the 2022 season begins. TCHS has completed a portion of the health, safety, and environmental requirements and will complete the remainder of those requirements prior to its June 8 opening,” township Supervisor Doug White said in a Thursday statement. “However, completion of other conditions and requirements is delayed due largely to problems scheduling contractors and receiving materials in this competitive market. Acme Township and TCHS’ agreement enables TCHS the ability to identify and schedule contractors now for project execution in late summer into fall, and completion by November 15.”
Work to be completed before the start of the shows includes construction of an emergency access road, dust mitigation and improvements to storm water management and on-site water supply. Work that will be completed after the season ends includes grading and gravel for trailer parking, extending paving at three entrances to the grounds and landscaping.
“The horse show at Flintfields has been part of the community for 14 years, and we are committed to being good citizens caring for the land and developing beautiful accommodations that support the community,” Matt Morrissey, managing partner of Morrissey Management Group, owner of TCHS, said . “We are excited to welcome riders and spectators to another thrilling season of Olympic caliber hunter/jumper equine competition [with] enhanced amenities developed in cooperation with Acme Township, Grand Traverse County and the State of Michigan.”
In September 2021, the township warned TCHS that it needed to resolve the violations noted earlier that year and come into full compliance with the town’s requirements or risk an injunction. In response, Morrissey hired a land use consultant and applied for a required special use permit. The township approved the permit April 5 of this year but included more than 20 conditions that had to be met prior to the opening of the show season.
The conditions include updated parking, proper access for emergency services, pedestrian walkways, storm water containment during heavy rains, manure management, dust control, dirt and debris management on the street on which TCHS operates, landscaping to shield the view from neighbors, obtaining all relevant permits from other agencies and more.
On Thursday, TCHS issued a statement saying “the vast majority of the conditions have been met, will be met shortly or are in the process of being addressed.”
The TCHS season will begin June 8 with the start of the Traverse City Spring Horse Show I. Highlights of the TCHS season include the Adequan USEF Junior Hunter National Championships—East, the FEI North American Youth Jumping and Dressage Championships, the USHJA Young Jumper Championship, the American Gold Cup, and several Major League Show Jumping events.