08/06/13 — Council nixes feral cat feeding

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Council nixes feral cat feeding

By Matt Caulder
Published in News on August 6, 2013 1:46 PM

Goldsboro residents will now be breaking the law if they feed feral cats.

After being tabled last month, an amendment to the city of Goldsboro's animal control ordinance was approved Monday night by the City Council, making it a finable offense to feed feral cats that are not being managed as part of a trap-neuter-return program.

Council also amended the ordinance to change the language of the dogs-running-at-large section to include all animals running at large.

The ordinance was opposed by Raleigh-based Operation Catnip. The group is a proponent of trap-neuter-return methods of controlling feral cat populations.

Allowances were made to allow for the feeding of TNR-managed colonies after the group brought their opposition to the mayor and council on multiple occasions.

Marie Brewer, a board member of Operation Catnip, contacted Mayor Al King through an email earlier Monday to give her final disapproval of the ordinance before the City Council meeting last night.

"The intention to fine citizens for their compassionate nature is an egregious overreach," said Ms. Brewer in her email. "Even one animal left to starve because a citizen is afraid of being fined is a tragic consequence of an unnecessary feeding ban."

At the City Council work session, King said that over the course of getting the amendment together he has learned more than he ever thought he would about cats and that the ordinance is a good compromise between the concerns of the citizens of Goldsboro and proponents of trap-neuter-return.

Councilman Gene Aycock said the ordinance will only be complaint-driven and that police officers won't be out patrolling for people feeding cats.

The ordinance is intended to give the police some claws with which to respond to citizen complaints about feral cats in their communities. Also, the feeding ban serves to allow the city's Animal Control employee to be able to trap the animals more effectively than if they were being fed and weren't hungry enough to go for the bait in traps.

In other business, approval was given by the council for multiple city departments to move forward with a number of small-scale projects to make Goldsboro more aesthetically appealing.

Julie Metz, director of the Downtown Goldsboro Development Corp., gave a presentation on planned landscape improvements to the 200 block of John Street. The improvements would come in the form of six trees planted next to the street much in the same way they are done on Center Street.

The project arose form a request from a local chapter of the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority and a promise to donate one of the six trees to be put in place.

The concrete cutting to make room for the trees will be done by city employees and they will also be repairing some John Street sidewalks alongside the project.

The trees for the project are expected to cost about $1,800. Planting will begin in the fall.

Public Works Director Jose Martinez also secured the council's blessing to remove sections of fence between U.S. 70 and a frontage access road to place concrete monuments in place of the fencing, showing the area as a controlled access area. The removal of the fence, which is overgrown with flora, would be to beautify the area and make mowing easier, he said.

The fencing would be sold for scrap to offset the cost of the project estimated at $1,500 if the monuments can be constructed by Public Works or $6,500 otherwise.

The first phase of the project will encompass nearly a mile on either side of U.S. 70 and will continue if it proves successful and cost effective.

Council voted on several planning issues in its consent agenda, including a planning commission recommendation to deny a conditional use permit for a boarding house on Edgerton Street on the grounds that it does not meet the city code. Planning Director Randy Guthrie noted that the three people living in the house could continue to do so but the other three bedrooms could not be rented out.

Council also approved the donation of a property at 211 Shaw Court to Habitat for Humanity to demolish the fire-damaged structure and build a single family home.

Approval was given to the Sugar Rush Bakery, a fledgling bakery set to open on Ivy Court, to lease parking from an adjacent business for a period of one year to raise capital to pave the required parking spaces in accordance with city building codes.

Finance Director Kaye Scott received approval to purchase equipment through a federal contract website in addition to the state site that the city also works with. As a part of the approval for city access to the GSA website, approval was given to purchase a horizontal wood grinder for the city compost facility. By going through a vendor on the website the city saved almost $58,000 on the purchase, it was noted.

A decision to participate in a I-795 economic impact study was tabled for further discussion, raising concerns that the Highway 70 Commission had cut the city out of its discussions but wanted them to participate in the funding of the project.