Marlinton approves new animal ordinance
During the last year, Marlinton council received several complaints about animals - primarily dogs - and took a step toward solving its animal problems when it approved the first reading of a new animal ordinance during its regular meeting on May 11.
Councilmember Joe Smith chaired the committee to draft the new ordinance, which has worked on the new law for nearly a year. The committee also included councilmember David Zorn; Nelson Hernandez, proprietor of the Old Clark Inn Bed and Breakfast and Cris Weber, of the local SPCA. The committee worked for more than a year to rewrite the town animal ordinance.
Among other provisions, the ordinance prohibits chaining a dog to a fixed point, but allows chaining of a dog on a cable-run. Tethering will be prohibited between dark and 6 a.m., and it will be illegal to tether an animal when the temperature is 32 degrees or below or 85 degrees or higher. A kennel must provide a minimum of 100 square feet for each dog and provide sufficient shade (not just the inside of a dog house). The new law prohibits transporting a dog in the open bed of a truck, without restraint.
The ordinance provides for fines of not less than $500 for many violations. In addition to fines, violations of certain animal cruelty provisions could result in a 30-day jail term.
"If and when it is adopted, it will be an asset to the town," Smith said. "Everything's covered. We eliminated, from a year ago, a lot of things that were in the original draft and this mainly pertains to dogs. A little bit to some other animals, for parades and what-not, but mostly dogs."
The 26-page ordinance will take effect if approved by council after a second reading in June. A copy of the ordinance is available for public inspection at town hall, during normal business hours. After a reading by title only, council voted 6-0 to approve the ordinance.
During the mayor's report, Mayor Dennis Driscoll said the Great Greenbrier River Race was a success.
"Everything went very, very well," he said. "We had a lot of people here and people had a lot of good comments about how the town looked and how well things went with the race."
The mayor said no major leaks in the town water system had been reported during the previous month.
"For the first time in a long time, we've had no leaks detected, that were worth anything," he said. "We're running pretty good."
Driscoll said an engineering firm would update council in June on repairs to the town's storm water and sewage drainage systems.
"About the only other problem we have is with the sewer system and the storm water into the sewer system," he said. "Next month, we will be having Dave [Sharp] from Potesta, who will be here discussing the other things that need looked into and how we will find the money to proceed with getting rid of the rest of the storm water."
The Department of Environmental Protection is pressuring Marlinton and other municipalities state-wide to reduce and eliminate storm water flowing into their sanitary sewer systems. In October 2010, council selected Potesta and Associates, Inc. to design continued upgrades to the town's storm water and sewage drainage systems.
Hanna Engineering, Inc. and construction contractor Kanawha Stone, Inc. completed a first phase of improvements in January.
Council heard a citizen complaint about dogs running at large, which led to a discussion of whom town residents should call for animal complaints.
Councilmember Loretta Malcomb said town residents should call the Sheriff's Office because county law regulates animals.
"The town ordinance and the county ordinance are two different things," she said. "To me, the Sheriff is responsible for the dogs, no matter where they are, because we are in the county. That department was given the authority to be the dog warden, so they would be the ones responsible, I would think."
Zorn recommended using a citizen complaint form.
"If you have an issue of any kind or any form, you come to town hall, you fill out a citizens concern form," he said. "They, in turn,will find out whose dog it is and send a letter to these people, warning them of the violation that they're in. If you see it's not corrected, you let the town know. Then, it's all documented."
Recorder Robin Mutscheller said dogs without tax tags should be reported to the Sheriff's Office.
"The thing that I think would govern it and take precedence is whether the animal has a tag," she said. "The Sheriff is responsible for the collection of tax. Specifically, in the county ordinance, it gives the Sheriff the authority to pick that animal up, anywhere in Pocahontas County, if it does not have a tag on it."
In other business, Marlinton council:
- heard a citizen complaint about standing water at 415 Fourth Avenue. Councilmember Norris Long agreed to investigate the problem.
- approved a budget revision to move $1,500 from the city hall budget to the library budget.
- approved a change in early voting dates to conform with state law. Early voting now will begin on June 1. Council also voted 6-0 to set poll worker pay at $100 per day.
- approved advertising for a part-time, 6-month per year town worker for Mountain View Cemetery.
- tabled action on law enforcement.
- took no action on festival coverage sponsorship for WVMR.
The next regular Marlinton council meeting is scheduled for June 8, 7 p.m. at the municipal building. The agenda will be posted at pocahontastimes.com when received.