Dogged by concerns: Animal ordinance discussion dominates Denver Borough meeting

By on July 27, 2016

Denver Borough Council members reviewed a proposed revised animal ordinance at their Monday, July 25, meeting. After much discussion, which included opinions from residents and from planning commission members, council members agreed additional language is needed.

The current Denver ordinance stipulates the maximum number of cats and dogs a resident may have is four in any combination.

Recently, when a resident complained that a neighbor had six dogs, it was determined that the neighbor had five, which is one more than the ordinance allows. There were no complaints of poor care, safety issues, or nuisance issues associated with the complaint.

Council members agreed on two actions after hearing the circumstances: They granted the family a waiver and decided to revise the animal ordinance to eliminate a maximum number of dogs and/or cats.

The proposed ordinance removes the restriction on the number of dogs and cats and expands and language addressing animal nuisances. It also addresses responsibilities of owners and anyone else responsible for the welfare and safety of a resident’s dogs and cats.

Fred Wagaman, chairman of the Denver Planning Commission, explained that when the commission met on June 14 members unanimously agreed that Denver should maintain the maximum number of four dogs and cats.

“The commission when the ordinance was first put together, gave much thought about limiting the maximum number for the good of the community,” said Wagaman.

Most of the homes in Denver are built in fairly close proximity. Without a maximum number of dogs and cats, a neighborhood could become a very noisy environment, as well as present other nuisance problems, members noted. Wagaman presented a list of local communities that limit the number of dogs and cats per residence, and the most common number is four.

Planning commission members understand there might be circumstances where council would need/want to grant a waiver to the maximum number permitted. This would be a rare occasion. The evidence is that the most recent incident is the first one in a decade.

Councilman Todd Stewart stated the number of animals is not the problem. Problems occur with issues of proper care, safety, and general nuisance issues that result in complaints, he said.

Resident Randy Meckley stated support for keeping the maximum number at four, saying his concern is cats.

“We have people who are passionate about cats and without a number a person is going to have five or more,” Meckley said. “Cats aren’t licensed like dogs.”

Mayor Rod Redcay reminded people that “we had the veterinarian at a council meeting and she explained the differences in cats and dogs.

“There’s a difference between how dogs and cats are maintained and how the police do enforcement. Police will catch a stray dog. They don’t go out and catch cats.”

Borough Manager Mike Hession will speak with the solicitor and council will review the revised draft which will address the issue of a waiver.

In other business:

* George Whetsel, director of Public Works, reported that on Saturday, July 23, at 1:30 a.m., a water main break in front of Kalas Manufacturing, 20 Main St., Denver, was fixed.

* Redcay, who is also executive director of R.E.A.L. Life Community Services, informed council that the sale of The Denver House hotel and restaurant, 240 Main St., originally scheduled for the end of July, is postponed until late September. R.E.A.L. Life Community Services along with collaborative partners, LHOP (Lancaster Housing Opportunity Partnership), and Welsh Mountain Medical and Dental Center, intend to purchase and renovate the Denver House with affordable apartments and space for community services, including medical, dental, and mental health counseling.

* Denver Volunteer Fire Company Chief Shannon Hilton reported the company had a total of 130 calls since Jan. 1. Volunteer firefighters responding averaged 13.4 men per call with man hours totaling 1,282.2 this year. Response time for calls was 3.3 minutes.

* East Cocalico Officer in Charge Cpl. Terry Arment reported 799 calls in June, and 4,941 total calls since Jan. 1. There were 31 criminal cases in June, with 10 of those in Denver. Six of the 10 Denver cases have been cleared.

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