City council to maintain control of livestock decisions
After an initial discussion indicated the Washington City Council wanted the Board of Adjustment to handle requests from people who wish to raise livestock in town, the council voted Wednesday not to farm out the task.
The council voted down the first reading of an ordinance that would have amended the city zoning code, naming the Board of Adjustment as the entity to make the decision. During the vote, council members Bob Shepherd and Fred Stark voted against the ordinance. Council member Merle Hagie was absent. Four votes are required for an ordinance to be approved.
During discussion Shepherd said that he would not vote for the ordinance. He called the plan to allow the board to handle the requests an “abdication of responsibility.” He said that the council members are elected to do that work. Shepherd also objected to the ability of the board of adjustment to make a decision with no input from the council.
“There is no way I can vote for this ordinance the way that it is,” Shepherd said.
City administrator Brent Hinson said that developing a livestock ordinance could take many months and he was concerned that the board would have the work to do when it could spend its time with more important items. He also said he believed the council had given him the directive to pen the ordinance giving authority to the Board of Adjustment when the issue was discussed last month.
“There were several reasons for that,” he said. “There is neighbor notification that is required for Board of Adjustment actions. There is a public hearing. Basically, they are already set up to do it. Maybe the council is not as well set up to do it, but hey, whatever the council wants we’ll do.”
Shepherd said that he wasn’t comfortable with the Board of Adjustments making the decision and the council having no say in the decision. Council member Bob Shelmyer said that the council appointed the board members, and should trust them to make the right decisions for the city. Shepherd said that council members were elected and board members are appointed.
Hinson said anyone wishing to keep livestock in the city has to apply to the council and the council has to give written permission.
In other business the council:
• discussed a request from Russ Miller to remove monthly water charges from vacant lots at Parkside Estates trailer park;
• approved a request for a Cystic Fibrosis 5K on May 18;
• approved a request for the Demon Dash event Saturday;
• announced discussion of a special assessment would be held at 5 p.m. April 17 in the former library;
• approved the first reading of an ordinance setting site plan requirements; and
• held a closed session to discuss law enforcement issues.