Despite concerns raised by residents, city council Monday moved ahead with plans to allow golf carts on city streets and prohibit residents from feeding and watering stray cats.
Council approved moving forward with a plan proposed by the Henry County Humane Society to reduce the stray cat population. The plan involves Napoleon passing an ordinance prohibiting the feeding and watering of stray cats, the humane society continuing to offer low-cost spaying and neutering of cats to the community to the best of its ability and the city trying to secure grant funding for a trap, neuter release program.
Stacy Bressler, a Napoleon resident and former director of the local humane society, addressed council and expressed her concern that the non-feeding of the animals is cruel.
She also stated she believed Ohio’s law against cruelty to animals could apply to stray cats or dogs, but City Law Director Billy Harmon said he believed that only applied to pets owned.
“But not feeding an animal that is used to being fed is going to make the problem worse, because when they’re hungry, if there’s no food available they are going to get into your trash,” Bressler said. “When an animal is hungry, it’s going to find food somewhere.”
Council voted 4-2 to have legislation brought to it prohibiting feeding and giving water to stray cats or dogs, with councilmembers Dan Baer, Joe Bialorucki, Ken Haas and Jeff Mires in favor and councilmembers Jeff Comadoll and Lori Siclair dissenting.
Councilman Travis Sheaffer was absent.
As currently drafted, the legislation would put the burden of proving an animal belongs to an owner on the owner if court proceedings are held, and the first offense is a minor misdemeanor. Any offenses afterward would be misdemeanors of the fourth degree.
Bressler also stated the trap, neuter release program is the best answer, though she admitted it takes time and money. A city committee previously explored that option and determined it would cost about $150 per cat.
Before seconding the motion to have the ordinance brought to council, Baer stressed he would like the issue to receive three readings.
He also did the same for the discussion on the issue of allowing golf carts and other low speed vehicles on city streets.
As currently drafted, that ordinance would allow such vehicles on city streets up to 35 mph, but would prohibit them on Scott Street north of LaGrange Street.
Council President Joe Bialorucki voted against having the legislation as drafted brought to council, citing he believed the vehicles should also be allowed on Scott Street. Council approved having the legislation brought to it as is by a vote of 5-1.
In addition, Napoleon Police Chief Dave Mack said following a conversation with Henry County Sheriff Michael Bodenbender, the police department may be doing the safety inspections required of the vehicles. State law states the sheriff is responsible, but Mack said Bodenbender told him he’d prefer if city residents get inspected at the police station.
Mack said the sheriff did offer the checklist his office uses so the police can put their letterhead on it. Mack said Bodenbender also suggested keeping the vehicles off state routes, which Mack had suggested.
If the legislation passes, owners would have to get a safety inspection of their vehicles, have seat belts installed and purchase a license for them. All other driving conditions would also exist.
Council was approached by Gina Donelly who expressed concern with having kids driving the vehicles.
In other business, council:
• Passed three ordinances, all under suspension of the rules requiring three readings, of purchasing pieces of property near the waste water treatment plant needed for a rehabilitation project at the plant.
• Approved second reading of an ordinance to allow the Ohio Department of Transportation to conduct its bridge inspection program within city limits.
• Requested Harmon bring legislation to accept the updated master plan.
• Approved purchase of a line truck for the electric department.
• Approved applying for a surplus radio grant from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources for MARCS radios.
• Requested legislation for a Community Reinvestment Area agreement for Paul Martin & Sons, which is moving its business into the city. The tax abatement would be for 10 years and would be applied to 100 percent of the improvements made on the property in that time, including building a structure. Bialorucki pointed out the company would still pay property taxes on the actual land.
Bialorucki also sent two items to committees for future discussion, including a pole attachment agreement with Okolona Telephone Co./bright.net and a Henry County Transportation Network proposal for an additional vehicle in Napoleon.