Mount Olive now will fine owners of loose pets
By Steve Herring
Published in News on November 7, 2008 1:46 PM
MOUNT OLIVE -- People who allow their dogs to roam free in town could face civil penalties.
Town board members this week unanimously approved an amendment to town ordinances authorizing the penalties.
The amendment is the result of a recommendation by a committee that was formed following the police shooting of a family pet Sept. 18.
Mount Olive police had responded to a call from a woman who said a vicious dog had chased her into her house. The dog was killed by two shotgun blasts.
The shooting embroiled the town and its police department in an, at-times, heated controversy.
Monday night, town attorney Carroll Turner said that Colby Mangum, who had the dog at her home, and Michael Kicia, who owned the dog, had been the most reasonable people he had spoken with about the shooting.
The two serve on a committee with Melanie Ladd, chairman, who does animal rescue; Irene Patten, a retired Mount Olive College professor; and local veterinarians Dr. Mark Sasser and Dr. Amy Moye.
Turner noted that the town retains its authority to bring charges against dog owners that would be heard in district court. The civil penalties would not be as involved, and any revenues generated from them would go to the town, not the courts, he said.
Under the amended ordinance, police would issue a written warning for the first offense. The second offense within a 30-day period, starting the day of the first offense, would incur a $100 civil fine.
A third offense within the 30 days would mean an additional $250 fine. A fourth and any subsequent offenses within the 30 days would be $500 each.
The amendment authorizes the town attorney to collect the penalties. Should legal action be required to collect the penalties, the town attorney may "recover reasonable attorney fees" and other costs incurred in bringing the action and collecting the judgment.
In other business, the board agreed to a recommendation by Town Inspector Danny Keel to delay for 90 days any further condemnation action on three properties -- 126 Patten St., 1012 S. Johnston St. and 137 Hillsboro St.
Keel said he plans to start the next round declaring vacant and dilapidated housing as public nuisances in January, clearing the way for them to be demolished by the town.
Commissioners questioned Keel about a large two-story house on South Church Street. Commissioners said they continue to hear complaints about the house.
Keel said the owner had agreed to allow the fire department to burn it in a training exercise.
However, the next-door neighbor was concerned that a fire could damage trees in her yard. The two houses are close, said Mayor Ray McDonald Sr. He said he understands why the neighbor could be concerned about her home.
Gena Knode was reappointed to the Planning Board. Also appointed was Paulita Musgrave.
No one spoke at a brief public hearing on a text amendment to the town's sign zoning ordinance.
Ms. Knode told commissioners that churches that operate day cares want to erect signs. The churches already are allowed to erect church signs.
The change, she said, would allow them to have a separate sign for a day care.
The sign may not exceed 32 square feet and not be placed nearer than 15 feet from the property line. The sign must be monument style and be no taller than 6 feet.
Commissioners unanimously approved the amendment.
In final action, the board declared surplus three aerators from the town's wastewater treatment plant. Town Manager Charles Brown said the items were no longer needed because of the town's new plant.
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