Council proposes law for dangerous dogs

Tuesday, February 4, 2003

Pit bulls, rottweilers, chows and mastiffs would be focus of new rules

SIKESTON - City officials are looking at stricter rules for some of the rougher varieties of "man's best friend."

Tom Bridger, public works director, presented information during Monday's regular City Council meeting on a proposed aggressive animal ordinance requested by Ken Fowler, animal control officer.

This would revise the city's animal control ordinance by adding references to cats and exotic animals, Bridger said, but the major change is the addition of a section addressing dangerous dogs.

The ordinance specifically names four breeds: pit bulls, rottweilers, chows and mastiffs. "These are the animals that we have the most problems with," said Bridger.

Among the requirements for these breeds are concrete-floor pens and $50,000 worth of insurance coverage.

Copies of the proposed ordinance are available at City Hall, and staff agreed to place a copy at the Sikeston Library as well.

Action on this ordinance is slated for March, with officials considering allowing 30-60 days for residents to come into compliance if the ordinance is passed.

In other City Council business:

* Council members voted 3-2 to add two stop signs at the Tanner-Anderson-Applegate five-way intersection despite the DPS Traffic Committee's recommendation to not do so, with Councilman Jerry Pullen and Councilmember Sue Roger entering the dissenting votes.

The traffic committee said there are "worse locations" that need stop signs, Bridger said. "They felt at this location it really wasn't necessary." DPS also reported minimal problems there.

The intersection presently has stop signs at three of the five streets.

The issue was placed before council at the request of an employee at the nearby Division of Family Services office.

* Council voted 4-1 to accept a five-year capital improvement plan as submitted by city staff with Councilman Mike Marshall voting against its acceptance.

The plan includes "all capital needs in all the departments and sets them up on a schedule," City Manager Doug Friend explained. It includes everything from file cabinets to police cars.

Drafting the plan annually is a longstanding practice of the city, but the Charter requires future five-year capital improvement plans to be submitted to the council in January from now on. "You'll see it again during budget preparation," Friend said, describing the plan as a "living document" subject to modification and change.

Some of the major projects included are a public safety headquarters, a fire station and a skatepark.

Parks improvements listed include restrooms at R.S. Matthews Park and at the Complex's southwest corner; concrete steps for Roberta Lowe Park; playground equipment for R.S Matthews Park, Mary Lou Montgomery Park, Roberta Lowe Park and the Clinton Building area at the Complex; and angle parking for the Complex.

* Two more bills in the ongoing series to bring city code into compliance with the City Charter were approved.

Linda Lowes, director of governmental services, said these bills establish procedures for elections, initiative, referendum and recall and establish the council's licensing, taxation and franchise powers and procedures among other things.

* A resolution authorizing the mayor and city clerk to execute an agreement transferring fire fighting responsibilities for the recently annexed Hayward property from the Sikeston Fire District to the city's Department of Public Safety was approved.

This will relieve the newly-annexed residents from taxes and fees associated with their former fire district. "They'll be paying city taxes now," said Lowes.

* A subdivision request from Michael Graham for Chavez Subdivision was approved.

* A request from Ron McCormick of M&M Development to rezone the McCormick Estates Subdivision from agricultural open space to R-2 single-family residential was approved.

A subdivision request for the development was also approved.

Mayor Phil Boyer said development in that area is "a step in the right direction for us" and credited Department of Public Safety Director Drew Juden's efforts for helping make it possible.

* A subdivision request from Josh Bill for the South Grove Estates Subdivision's third addition was approved.

* Council members extended the existing franchise agreement with Charter Cable through April 8 while city staff and Charter officials finalize negotiations for a new franchise agreement.

An "accelerated comment period" will be held until a public hearing slated for the March 3 city council meeting. Final action is expected April 7.

* Carroll Couch, city clerk, briefed the council on the city's new precinct boundaries and polling places designated by the county clerks.

"Everyone in New Madrid County will be going to Market Place, and everyone in Scott County will be going to church," said Couch, noting all the Scott County polling places are churches.

Polls opened today at 6 a.m. and close at 7 p.m.

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