Worthington town council tables animal ordinance, again
In a well attended yet mostly unproductive meeting, the Worthington Town Council failed to resolve their latest bone of contention, the animal ordinance issue.
The council discussed old business, such as ownership of the town cemetery, which was tabled for yet another month, and then, in keeping with the decision made last month, heard suggestions proposed by council President Malcolm Stahl, one created by board member Tom Franklin and another submitted by a resident perhaps affected the most, Kyle Rogers.
Rogers lives in the extreme southwest corner of Worthington’s town limits, literally a stone’s throw from rural, or unincorporated Worthington.
Last Christmas season, Rogers learned from his daughter Hannah that she would like to start barrel-racing as a sport, and would, like so many other rural Indiana youngsters, like to become part of the 4-H program. Coming from a daughter who previously participated in the family sport of car racing, this seemed a nice safe propositiion for a father to consider.
Knowing that the town of Worthington had recently rescinded an older animal ordinance, in favor of a new one, Rogers had heard, like most other Greene Countians, the new ordinance banned pit bulls within city limits, but literally nothing else was mentioned in terms of the new ordinance.
The old ordinance, 2016-1, says in Section 10,”It shall be unlawful to keep in town a Pit Bull dog, or a dog which is twenty-five percent (25%) or more of the Pit Bull breed. Such a dog is hereby declared a nuisance.”
The new ordinance, 2016-02, ratified in April 2016, states in Section 7, “It shall be unlawful for any person to possess in Town a dog of the pit bull breed or a dog that is more than one-quarter pit bull.”
While the wording as to the owning of pit bulls has not changed, the wording in regards to the legality of owning livestock underwent changes.
In the old ordinance, the law regarding livestock and animals of that kind reads (Section 7): “It shall be unlawful to permit any cattle, horse, swine, sheep, goats or poultry to run at large in the town. It shall further be unlawful to picket or tie any such animal in any of the streets of the town for the purpose of grazing or feeding.”
The new ordinance addresses the livestock issue in a way made much more stark by its banishment of livestock-type animals completely. It reads (Section 7, with the addition of the subhead ‘Prohibited Animals’): “It shall be inlawful for any person to keep livestock in Town, including but not limited to the following: swine, cattle,sheep, goats, poultry or horses.”
When asked to explain the vast discrepancy as to livestock in each ordinance, the council lawyer responded with, “We received many citizen complaints about having such animals in town.” He made no mention of specific complaints, nor where those complaints may be located for review.
Rogers, along with his lawyer, Lucas Rowe of the Southern Indiana Legal Group LLC, brought their suggested version to replace the livestock ordinance which mentions the requirement of at least one one-quarter acre lot per animal, along with requirements for cleanliness and the avoidance of foul smells.
The version submitted by Rogers and Rowe closely resembles that of one suggested by council member Tom Franklin.
The amendment suggested by Malcolm Stahl would require the building of a fence, to exact standards and materials to house the said animal.
President Stahl then asked Rogers if he thought he should be responsible for paying the fines incrued on him, at a rate of $50 per day, to which Rogers answered no, he did not. It was discussed during the February meeting whether the council should rescind the accrued fines placed upon Rogers and his family, and it was decided to forego any additional fines until the matter is settled.
Stahl then said, “Kyle, I’m disappointed in you, isn’t it true that when Chief Raney came to talk to you about the fines, you suggested that since he and your dad were good friends that maybe the fines could be shoved under the rug or something?”
Rogers rose from his seat, and said, “Mackey, I can’t believe you just said that.” Loooking towards the back of the room for Chief Randy Raney, Rogers asked the Chief, “Did I ever suggest I should use my dad’s friendship with you to get me out of paying this,? to which Chief Raney responded, “No, Kyle, we never discussed anything like that.”
Stahl then said, “Well, I must have misunderstood, then. I apologize, Kyle.”
It was decided to once again table the issue for another month.
In other business, the council:
•Heard Chief Raney’s report for March, which included one identity deception, two driving while suspended, two OVWI with endangerment, one habitual driving violator, one criminal mischief, two trespassing and one attempted residential entry.
•Heard a proposal by Worthington’s Sherry Vandeventer, who desires to plan a celebration on Earth Day in Worthington, as well as a farmers market in Worthington.
The next meeting of the Worthington Town Council will be April 11 at 6:30 at Worthingtons Fire Station/Town Hall.