Church Hill to require park users to clean up after pets

Jeff Bobo • Nov 20, 2007 at 12:00 AM

CHURCH HILL — Pets won’t be banned from public parks in Church Hill, but owners will be required to keep them on a leash and pick up their “refuse” immediately, the Church Hill Board of Mayor and Aldermen decided Tuesday.

Last month the BMA conducted a lengthy discussion on how people and pets can coexist in city parks. The concern stemmed from complaints of dogs running at large in the parks, as well as the mess they make when inconsiderate pet owners don’t pick up their droppings.

Although the possibility of banning pets from the parks was discussed at length last month, ultimately the board asked City Attorney Chris Raines to research the matter and return this month with a recommendation.

Raines’ solution was basically to enforce the leash ordinance already in place. In addition, Raines recommended an amendment to the litter ordinance requiring pet owners to remove their pet’s “refuse,” or feces, from public or private property immediately after the deed occurs.

The BMA approved Raines’ recommendation unanimously.

The combined fine and court cost for violating the “refuse” ordinance would be $120, while the total fine and court cost for violating the leash law would be $110.

“We’re not trying to keep people and their pets out of our parks,” Mayor Dennis Deal said. “What this is about is if you have a pet there and they make a mess we expect you to clean it up. And you’ve got to keep your pet on a leash.

“We’ve got a lot of seniors who are complaining that dogs in our parks are coming up to them and it scares them, and that’s understandable. We want everyone to enjoy the city parks, but everyone has rights too.”

Alderman Rayburn Thacker brought up the possibility of creating a dog park in Church Hill where pet owners could let them run free. Deal said that might be something to look at later, but Church Hill probably isn’t ready for a dog park just yet.

Deal added that park patrons should know the police department will be serious about enforcing the leash law, as well as the amended “refuse” litter law as soon as it achieves final approval next month.

In other business Tuesday the BMA:

•Approved the first reading of an ordinance adding two non-resident members to the Church Hill Planning Commission. The ordinance will bring Church Hill into compliance with a new state law which requires municipal planning commissions with between five and 11 members to include two members from that municipality’s planning region.

Deal said he is not aware of any deadline on making the appointments. He said one commissioner recently resigned, and he would likely wait for the other opening to come up naturally as terms expire and members step down.

Anyone interested in being considered to represent the Church Hill planning region is invited to apply at City Hall. There is also a map of the city’s planning region available for review at City Hall.

•Approved the second and final reading of an ordinance rezoning 30.28 acres belonging to Herschel Huff which adjoins Riverview Drive from R-1 (low-density residential) to R-4 (high-density residential) to accommodate a proposed subdivision.

Two neighbors spoke during a public hearing on the ordinance and expressed concern about the potential for water drainage problems affecting their property as a result of the project. Deal assured the neighbors that no work can commence on the project until a drainage plan has been approved by the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation.

•Heard a report from Police Chief Mark Johnson that this year’s Christmas parade will be Dec. 1 at 11 a.m.

Johnson added that parade participants will be required to complete the entire route this year, which ends at the Church Hill Health Care and Rehabilitation Center.

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