Tuesday, December 22, 2009
When a vote on amending the city of Bingen's livestock ordinance, under review for several months, was finally called in Bingen, there was little controversy.
The ordinance -- now called the "animals ordinance" rather than the "livestock ordinance" -- was unanimously approved during the council's Dec. 15 meeting, and only one issue was discussed.
City Council member Betty Barnes noted that pigeons were included in the list of allowed pets, and she said she did not recall that exception being discussed in earlier meetings.
"Are pigeons going to be allowed?" asked Barnes.
Council member Clinton Bryan put the question in perspective.
"The ordinance allows three pot-bellied pigs, three ducks -- are three pigeons going to be worse than any of those?" Bryan asked.
The revised ordinance stipulated several exceptions to what will be allowed as pets within the city limits as follows: "Miniature pot-bellied pigs, rabbits, pigeons, and ducks may be allowed as pets within the city of Bingen, provided that a) an annual permit for the pet is obtained from the city clerk's office (The permit costs $10); b) No person, firm, or corporation may possess or keep any of the animals ... for the purpose of sale or profit unless said animals are kept and sold in the same commercial establishment; and c) No more than three of the animals specified may be kept in or on the premises of any dwelling unit," read an excerpt.
Barnes decided that allowing pigeons was not a justification to delay a vote, so Barnes made the motion to approve the ordinance.
The council members voted 4-0 to approve the new ordinance.
The impetus for the revisions to the Bingen Municipal Code come from a controversy that developed in September, when Oliver Pochert and Michelle Halbin -- a Bingen couple with a pet duck named "Duffy" -- were told that they could not legally keep the duck because Bingen's ordinances specifically prohibited it.
The ordinance in its previous form read as follows: "It is unlawful for any person ... to permit the keeping or maintaining of any poultry or animals as defined in this code within the city limits, whether enclosed or not."
"The only way to allow the duck is to amend the ordinance," explained Bingen city attorney Tad Connors at the time.
The ordinance also specified two levels of penalties for those not following the new city ordinance.
"Any violation of this chapter shall be an infraction with a base penalty of no less than $100 and no more than $250," read an excerpt.
The penalty for continuing infractions will be as follows: "In the event that any person is found to have committed two or more infractions in any 12-m,month period, any subsequent violation of this chapter may ... be charged as a gross misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of up to $5,000 or a year in jail, or both."
The new ordinance is now legally in effect.