Sunday, November 22, 2015

Oconee County Board Of Commissioners Has Revised Animal Control Ordinance On Agenda For Tuesday Night

Tethering Not Addressed

Oconee County’s Animal Control Ordinance is on the agenda for discussion at the Board of Commissioners meeting on Tuesday night, but one of the most controversial aspects of that ordinance is not scheduled for consideration.

The Board is to discuss minor modifications to the existing ordinance to bring it into alignment with changes to the state regulations controlling treatment of animals.

The Board is not scheduled to take up the tethering of animals, which is allowed in the present ordinance.

Helen Fosgate, a member of the Animal Control Advisory Board, county Animal Shelter staff, and a group of local animal activists have called for a ban on tethering, but the full Advisory Board has refused to support that change.

Those calling for the change likely will have the chance to speak up on Tuesday night during the meeting, which begins at 7 p.m. at the Courthouse in Watkinsville.

The Board also is scheduled to review applications for beer and wine licenses for 2016, including one for a new restaurant in Epps Bridge Centre.

Ordinance Editing

Catlyn Vickers, director of the Oconee County Animal Control Department, will lead the discussion of the proposed changes to the existing county ordinance, according to the draft agenda released by County Clerk Jane Greathouse on Friday afternoon.

County Attorney Haygood

Vickers it to be joined in the discussion by Susan Wells, chairperson of the Animal Control Advisory Board, county Administrative Officer Jeff Benko and County Attorney Daniel Haygood.

Vickers and Haygood have been working since at least 2012 on a draft document that makes a series of minor changes to the existing ordinance.

The current ordinance was passed in 2011, and the state has made a number of changes in its animal control laws since then, including in 2015.

Chance To Speak

Citizens are given a chance to speak at the start of the BOC meetings on topics that are not on the agenda.

BOC Chairman Melvin Davis, who runs the meetings, usually allows citizens to speak on the actual agenda items before any action is taken by the Commission.

Such an opportunity would allow citizens in the audience who want to ask for additional changes in the Animal Control Ordinance to speak.

At the last meeting of the Animal Control Advisory Board in October, most of the roughly 30 citizens in the audience expressed support for calls from Vickers and Advisory Board member Fosgate for a ban on tethering in the county.

Tethering In Ordinance

The current ordinance allows for the tethering of animals but sets a number of restrictions on it use.

The tether must have a swivel installed at each end and be attached to a stationary object that cannot be moved by the animal.

Only one animal may be attached to each tethering system.

The system should not allow the animal to get tangled or strangle itself.

At that October meeting, Board Chairperson Wells spoke against significant changes in the ordinance.

Advisory Board member Claire Hamilton stated, as she had at the July meeting of the Advisory Board, that “there are times when tethering an animal is in the best interest of the animal.”

Authority To Cite

In separate action on Tuesday night, the Board of Commissioners is expected to review its annual ordinance specifying which county officials are responsible for issuing citations for various ordinances of the county.

For example, B.R. White, director of the county Planning Department and Code Enforcement Office, is to be given the authority to issue citations for ordinances related to building inspections and for related ordinances.

The ordinance before the BOC for 2016 authorizes Vickers to issue citations for Animal Control ordinances and for related county ordinances.

In a recent incident involving the shooting of cats in Broadlands subdivision, the Sheriff’s Office pointed to this BOC “Issuance of Citations Ordinance” to argue that Animal Control has the needed authority to issue citations for animal control ordinance violations.

New Liquor Application

Jonathan Bridger Loftin, 1010 Crabapple Circle, off Union Church Road west of Butler’s Crossing, has applied for a beer and wine license for a restaurant to be called Groove Burgers in Epps Bridge Centre.

The restaurant will be in suite 510, just east of the Alumni Hall sport apparel store.

According to the alcohol license application, the restaurant will seat 48 persons and employ 15 full-time employees.

The restaurant will operate from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

License Renewals

The Board of Commissioners on Tuesday will review applications for renewal of alcohol licenses for six other restaurants in the county as well as for renewal of licenses for two clubs and for 18 retail stores.

Cheddar’s Casual Café, Dominick’s, Taqueri La Parilla, and Taqueria Tsunami are asking for renewal of their beer, wine and distilled spirits licenses.

Catch 22 and University Cinemas are seeking renewal of their beer and wine licenses.

The two recreational club licenses up for renewal are held by Jennings Mill Country Club and Lane Creek Golf Club.

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