Council Readying Tighter Leash Law

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Starting February, dog owners will have to keep their dogs on their property or on a leash in town if a proposed amendment is passed by the Town Council.

Payson Police Chief Gordon Gartner is supporting a leash law that goes beyond the present town ordinance, which simply calls for control of an animal in public places.

Gartner called the current ordinance "vague in nature in that it allows for the issue of control to be debated."

The amended ordinance gets a first reading and public hearing Thursday when it goes before the Town Council.

Town Manager Rich Underkofler said he anticipates little opposition to the amendment. Underkofler said public response has been overwhelming in favor of having a leash law.

He said the town's ordinance would be similar to that of an animal control law recently passed by the county, but adds a section on sanitation which would require the animal's owner to remove and dispose of all feces deposited on public or private property.

Lt. Don Engler of the Payson Police Department said fees for violations of the ordinance are currently under discussion.

In a memorandum to Underkofler, Gartner said he was recommending an appropriate leash law when the dog is not on the private property of the owner or custodian of the dog. Engler said dogs will not be have to be on a leash, or chained or fenced when they are on their owner's property.

Once the dog leaves the owner's property, it would be required to be on a leash.

Gartner said the value of the proposed leash law is that it is a "strict liability code and does not require any intent or knowledge on the part of the owner/custodian."

He said that from Jan. 1 through Oct. 31, 1998, the police department responded to 919 animal control calls, issued 19 citations for animal violations and impounded 148 animals.

The amended ordinance will go before the council for two public hearings and could be passed at the council's second meeting in January.

Underkofler said the amended ordinance would go into effect within 30 days of the council's final approval, or as early as February.

In other business Thursday, the council will discuss and possibly approve a resolution for an intergovernmental agreement with Eastern Arizona College.

The agreement includes a provision for the extension of water lines to service the college and allows for the purchase of an acre of land by the town for a fire station. Underkofler said the resolution will allow the town to purchase the property from the college for $125,000.

He said the college is expected to open bids today (Tuesday) for construction.

"It's the second time around. The first bids were over budget," Underkofler said. "They made some design changes and are awarding bids tomorrow (Wednesday)."

Police, fire station on agenda

The council will also discuss the construction of the new police facility, the northside fire station, and the renaming of the redevelopment district from the Main Street Project to the Green Valley Project.

As part of the consent agenda, the council will also accept resignations, appointments and reappointments of various committee members to a number of boards and commissions, including the Ad Hoc Main Street Committee, the Airport Board, and Planning and Zoning.

The Town Council meets at 6 p.m. Thursday at Town Hall Council Chambers at 303 N. Beeline.

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