Council votes down proposed changes to animal code

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

The Eureka Springs City Council won’t be amending the code section on animals any time soon.

On Monday night, the council heard from alderwoman Mickey Schneider about some proposed changes to the code. Schneider said she worked with animal control office Jim Evans, building inspector Bobby Ray and the police department to come up with the proposed changes.

The proposed changes include changing kennel size requirements to 100 square feet per each dog 40 pounds or more, adding a section saying no domesticated animals shall reside in any unoccupied residence and adding several sections regarding pot-bellied pigs. The owners of pot-bellied pigs should have a licensed veterinarian’s certification of breed, remove feces from the exterior property at least twice a week and own no more than two pot-bellied pigs, according to the proposed changes.

“The mayor asked me to get together with the guys to go through the codebook and rework things,” Schneider said. “We all have a preference for animals over children. Let me tell you. I know that.”

Alderwoman Melissa Greene addressed Evans about a problem with dogs being provided with allegedly improper shelter, saying the owner of those dogs could put in a doggie door and a pen outside. In that situation, Evans said, the dogs were kept in a shed with air-conditioning.

“Of course, everybody likes to call about cruelty,” Evans said. “They don’t know what’s going on.”

There may be animal cruelty happening in town, Evans said, but he doesn’t believe that’s true in this situation.

“I can’t run a schedule around town figuring out how many times people are walking their dogs per day,” Evans said. “If I think something is cruel, I’ll stop it … but they have an air conditioner. I just don’t see it. I really don’t.”

Schneider said the proposed changes would address these concerns.

“The whole thing is about fixing this so it doesn’t happen,” Schneider said.

Greene said she agreed with all the proposed changes except the section on the kennel size. The kennel size should remain the way it is in the code, Greene said. Alderman Terry McClung said he appreciated Schneider’s effort but wasn’t sure the proposed changes are needed.

“It appears all this has done is brought awareness to the community that there can be some things that may or may not be questionable,” McClung said. “People are going to be more alert to watch for it now. I understand what Mickey’s trying to do … but it might not be an overall problem.”

Alderwoman Kristi Kendrick said she only supported the proposed change saying domesticated animals must live in an occupied residence.

“I will not vote to reduce the size of the pens, period,” Kendrick said.

The current code calls for a pen of at least 100 square feet for any dog 6 months of age.

Kendrick also expressed concerns about the proposed changes regarding pot-bellied pigs.

“I do not know where this pot-bellied pig thing is coming from. It’s out of the blue and no one has shown me it’s needed.”

“There are some pigs in this town living as pets,” Greene said. “There has been a problem with neighbors because of not cleaning it up. Nobody wants to take these pets away, but they need to become more responsible pet owners.”

Schneider moved to create an ordinance adopting the proposed changes to the code. The council voted, with Greene, Schneider and Tom Buford voting yes and Thomas, Kendrick and McClung voting no. Mayor Butch Berry voted no to break the tie, killing Schneider’s motion.

Also at the meeting, Thomas addressed how the council appropriates the Lake Leatherwood City Park sales tax to the parks commission. Thomas said he’d like to add a procedural step once the tax money comes in, where the council votes to appropriate that money to the commission.

“We’re not talking about taking money away from anybody. This is strictly procedure,” Thomas said.

Berry said he believes the current process works well. He recently asked the Arkansas Municipal League questions about how the tax money is appropriated, Berry said, and learned that the city’s procedure follows the law. McClung said he believed the council agreed to appropriate the money when voting to place the sales tax on the ballot, saying Eureka Springs residents overwhelmingly voted in favor of the tax.

“That’s my opinion. If you change it, it’s simply going to be an administrative step,” city attorney Tim Weaver said. “It has to go to parks first, because that’s where the tax says it goes. It’s been appropriated by the council’s approval and the population’s approval of the tax.”

Kendrick disagreed.

“We need to be appropriating funds. The city council is ignoring its obligations,” Kendrick said.

Thomas moved to create a resolution adding an administrative step appropriating the funds. With only Thomas and Kendrick voting in favor of it, the motion failed by a vote of 4-2.

In other business, the council approved a resolution for the mid-year budget adjustment, several quit claim deeds for the parks commission and an ordinance amending planned unit development codes on a third and final reading.

The council’s next regular meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Monday, Sept. 10, at The Auditorium.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: