10/05/05 — Princeton police can't put stop to animals at home

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Princeton police can't put stop to animals at home

By Jack Stephens
Published in News on October 5, 2005 1:47 PM

PRINCETON -- Princeton has an animal problem -- well, sort of.

Police Chief Eddie Lewis says a home just outside the town limits has two goats, a donkey, a few geese, 50 chickens and the usual household pets.

But because the double-wide mobile home is not inside the town limits, the chief says his hands are tied.

Lewis says the neighbors have complained and he has contacted the Johnston County animal control officer. But the officer said he had done all he can do.

"I stand firmly before you now," Lewis told the monthly town board meeting this week in the Community Building, "and say it's not our problem. ... I wouldn't want it next door to me. It's not our problem. I do feel for the people living next to it. I know we can't do anything about it."

The chief said Monday night that he wanted clarification from the town attorney before he acted.

"I've done it before, but it didn't work," he said.

Lewis noted that he faced a similar problem as police chief of Pikeville. There, he said, the town board ordered him to act against a property owner, who had junked vehicles on land outside of the town limits.

"The town was lucky that it was not sued when I was directed to do it."

Mayor Don Rains said he hoped that the problem can be solved with the county's help.

Lewis also told the board that all homes on Tart Circle had been condemned and letters had been sent to the property owners, giving them 45 days to respond. The last of nine homes on the short street had some repair problems but did not have running water.

During a recent tour with a Johnston County building inspector, Lewis said the inspector explained that the state code allowed a house to be condemned if it did not have running water. That's a good tool, the chief added.

In early summer, Lewis had considered condemnation of a home on the street. But the woman resident was in her 90s, and he declined. Now, she has been hospitalized.

Town Commissioner Eddie Haddock had said the homes on the street had been in bad shape for years.

In other business:

*The town board and Lewis agreed to hold Halloween from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Oct. 31.

*A part-time police officer, John Teele, resigned to take a job with the state Department of Motor Vehicles.