Some say you can tell a lot about a person by the way they treat their animals, and Rockingham Mayor Gene McLaurin said at Tuesday’s monthly city council meeting, “You can tell a lot about our community by how we expect our citizens to treat their animals.”
Council members discussed the proposed amendments to city ordinance that addressed the tethering and chaining of dogs within city limits. Effective July 1, the amendment “gives property and pet owners a reasonable way to restrain their dogs,” said Rockingham Police Chief Robert Voorhees. The amendment does not address a time limit for tethering, because Voorhees said that is not enforceable.
“About 95 percent of law enforcement across the state couldn’t enforce a time limit,” said Voorhees.
Councilman Travis Billingsley said, “It’s a shame the police have to enforce this, but we’re going in the right direction.”
Billingsley said he received phone calls about the amendment, and folks said to him that the language wasn’t clear enough and didn’t address all the issues. Voorhees pointed out that this amendment will be added on to city ordinance that already addresses the main issues as stated by North Carolina General Statute, and that if basic needs such as water, food and shelter are not met by the pet owner, they are failing to comply with state law.
“It’s a well-written ordinance,” said Voorhees. “I don’t know how much more stringent it can be.”
Voorhees examined dog tethering ordinances in municipalities smaller than Rockingham, and some as large as Charlotte.
“We like to look at the ones already tested in court,” said Voorhees. “We can always come back and tweak it.”
Councilman John Hutchinson remarked, “This gives dog owners a lot of options.”
Since each situation is different, officers will use their discretion when handling a situation with a dog. Sometimes dogs just get out somehow. Repeat offenders will be subject to fines, and if the dog displays vicious behavior, it may be immediately banned from city limits.
In other news:
The council agreed to move forward with the purchase of the McKenzie Furniture building for Discovery Place KIDS-Rockingham’s future children’s museum.
“The City of Rockingham would own the building and Discovery Place KIDS-Rockingham would lease it,” said McLaurin. “When they first came here, they were not interested in owning the building.”
“They didn’t want the city to rush out and buy a building,” added Councilman Steve Morris. “They wanted to start fund-raising and see how it goes and it is going well.”
“The feedback they received from citizens was ‘You want the City of Rockingham to be your landlord,’” said McLaurin. “now their fund-raising campaign is well underway. They’d like to see us move forward with purchasing the building.”
The building’s purchase price is $305,000, with $25,000 going back to Discovery Place KIDS-Rockingham as the sellers’, A. Wayne and Mary M. Stogner, contribution to the museum. The building has 4,176 square feet.
John Massey presented a rezoning for consideration by council. The property sits across from Food Lion on Fayetteville Road. The property for rezoning has two residences on it that the owner wishes to have removed. Massey said the property owners of the land that butts up to the back of that lot, Roberdel Apartments, may be concerned about business development there, and a natural buffer may be required. The back end of the lot in question isn’t suitable for development due to sloping topography. Property owners around the lot in which rezoning may take place can come to the public hearing on July 12, the next city council meeting.
Routine budget amendments were approved, as was the proposed budget for the coming fiscal year since no one came to the public hearing. Council members agreed that working together on the budget was successful, and that council members and department heads enjoy working together as a team.
“I’m glad ours is not as controversial as I see on the news, because they are having cuts and we’re not,” said City Manager Monty Crump.
“We are in a fortunate financial position,” said Bennett Deane.
“The City of Rockingham should feel good about the way we look after their money,” said McLaurin.
“Maybe we should have the people from Raleigh and Washington, D.C. come down and see how we do things,” said Billingsley.
Crump reported that work on Hitchcock Creek is moving forward on schedule. Construction on Franklin Street is still underway, and Crump expressed appreciation for all of the working partners involved. Wi-Fi at Browder Park is working well, and work is underway to install Wi-Fi at Hinson Lake.
Staff Writer Dawn Kurry can be reached at (910) 997-3111 ex. 43, or by e-mail at email@example.com.