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Senoia to consider adopting county animal ordinance

After lengthy discussions during the past two meetings the Senoia City Council on Monday voted unanimously to begin the process of scheduling public hearings that could lead to the adoption of Coweta County’s Animal Control Ordinance.

The discussion on animal control began Jan. 2 during a discussion of the city’s current ordinance and what constituted a dog kennel. But the discussion quickly led to the idea of comparing the city and county ordinance and determining which would best suit the needs of Senoia’s citizens.

The Jan. 2 discussion came on the heels of comments by one city resident, Ken Barnard, who said he had been experiencing problems, including being held at bay on his own property, for several years. Barnard said he eventually gave up on filing complaints about the dogs barking and coming on his property, even though on one occasion he counted as many as 27 dogs in an area adjacent to his house.

Mayor Robert Belisle at that meeting suggested that Barnard call 911 on each occasion, adding that doing so provides a paper trail to build a criminal case for nuisance.

Belisle said Senoia has an agreement with the county for animal control, adding that the failure to live up to the agreement would equate to the county not enforcing its own regulations. Belisle also maintained that for the city to adopt an inspection procedure and charge (or tax) residents for it would be inappropriate because residents are already paying county taxes for that service.

City Administrator Richard Ferry at both meetings noted that the county’s ordinance requires that the city adopt the county’s ordinance. Ferry also explained that some differences exist between the two ordinances. Unknown at this point is whether the city would be required to install and animal control board and warden if the county’s ordinance is eventually adopted.

Belisle on Jan. 17 said that, over all, he is comfortable with the county’s animal control ordinance, adding that it is better than the current city ordinance.

“If we adopt the county’s ordinance we’ll make every effort to make sure the county enforces it,” Belisle said.

Belisle reiterated that stance, saying that based on the quality of the ordinance and service delivery “the county ordinance is still a better ordinance and covers aspects ours doesn’t.”

Responding Jan. 2 to a statement by Ferry on whether the city was satisfied with the level of service being provided by the county, Belisle also noted two routes the city could take on the issue of dogs creating a nuisance. He said the city could adopt the county’s animal control ordinance, thereby requiring the county to enforce the issue, or the city could establish its own animal control service. The cost to city taxpayers for that service was not discussed.

Just prior to the Jan. 17 vote, Councilman Jeff Fisher asked Ferry to check with the county’s other municipalities that have adopted the county ordinance to get their perspective.

Belisle soon made a motion to begin the process of conducting public hearings that could lead to the city adopting the county’s animal control ordinance. The vote was unanimous.

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