Council approves breed-less animal ordinance

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

RDG selected to aid city in Safe Routes Project, West Beltway agreement signed by council

After lengthy discussions at two previous city council sessions, followed by a meeting with Dr. Tom Beall of Homestead Small Animal Practice, Monday night the Spencer City Council passed the final filing of an amended amendment dealing with unrestrained vicious animals in public.

The key objection to the ordinance brought before the council initially in July was the listing of breed-specific animals, rather than a more general focus. Objectors also stressed that the irresponsible owners needed to be held more accountable as opposed to just looking at the animal itself.

The Public Safety Committee met Aug. 12 to take into consideration the public comments that had been received during the first and second filings of the ordinance. It was determined that the ordinance should remain intact with the exception of removing any reference to a specific breed of dog; instead the ordinance gives a detailed definition of a "vicious animal," and also clarifies when an animal may be destroyed.

Council members for the most part agreed with the changes, at least for the time being.

"I'm going to vote for this ordinance tonight," said Ward 3 Councilman Steve Bomgaars with the anticipated "but" forthcoming. "We had a good discussion in committee with regard to omitting the breed specific; but I think we should keep a watchful eye."

Bomgaars suggested that the city continue to watch communities like Council Bluffs and Ottumwa to see how their ordinances for vicious animals are handled.

Ward 5 Councilman Ron Hanson agreed.

I'm not as convinced that some of these breeds are lap dogs," Bomgaars said, adding that if Police Chief Mark Lawson continues to report problems with these specific dog breeds, the council should come back and reconsider the decision to omit the names.

Mayor Reynold Peterson said, "One other thing that came out of the meeting is that we need to review ordinances with animals to put more liability on owners."

The new amendment passed on a 7-0 vote.

The council unanimously approved the selection of RDG Planning and Design as the consultant for the Safe Routes Project in Spencer. The scope of service for the $20,000 fee, plus reimbursable expenses of $1,000 to $2,000, will include a four step process including assistance with four public workshops scheduled for this week (see accompanying story). The consulting group will also prepare the preliminary master plan document and final plan.

Spencer's council approved the West Beltway Agreement with Clay County which essentially establishes each entity's responsibility for the project. According to Fagen, the next step will involve a right-of-way acquisition and an environmental study. The city manager suggested that real visible work on the beltway probably won't take place until 2010.

The council also approved the second filing of a proposed ordinance that will add a new section to the city code pertaining to substandard buildings, allowing for a historic restoration classification.

To be eligible for the "Historic Restoration Classification", an application would need to be submitted to the City Clerk's Office who in turn would forward it to the Building Official for review. The Building Official would review the plan for compliance and discuss with the owner any deficiencies or need for clarifications. The application would then be forwarded to the Historic Preservation Board for their review. Once that step is completed, the Board would forward their recommendation to the city council. The council can then approve or deny said request.

If the council approves the request, the governing body will assign a date that the project must be completed by. If the project is not completed in the time frame set out by the council, it will automatically lose its Historic Preservation Classification and be treated as a substandard building and be governed accordingly. Each project is evaluated on its own merits, thus the time allotted for completion is determined on that evaluation. The maximum amount of time allowed by the council is three years.

With unanimous support, the council approved a Historical Restoration Plan submitted by Mike and Jan Palm for several properties they own in the city. According to the plan, the last property will be completed by the end of 2012.

The resolution sets out that the Planning Director has the authority to extend the project completion date by up to six months should unavoidable or unforeseen circumstances arise. The resolution also sets out that should the time periods lapse, including extensions, the standard notice provisions of the substandard building ordinance will apply.

The council approved Everly Construction as the contractor on the Spencer Municipal Golf Course club house project. The Golf Course Board received bids for the new club house project at its Aug. 14 meeting. Six bids were received with Everly Construction being the lowest. Their bid was $290,820 which is approximately 3 percent under the architects estimate of $300,000.

Hanson asked City Manager Bob Fagen to explain the financing and repayment structure associated with the project. Fagen said that the council will be issuing an internal loan for $350,000. Fagen noted that the golf course would be raising additional monies and getting a lot of volunteer labor to offset the additional expenses.

The $350,000 will be paid back over 10 years with $10,000 annually from the hotel/motel tax; and an additional $25,000 from golf course revenue.

The council passed the first filing on a new ordinance for Electrical Contractor's Licensing to conform to the new state law provisions governing electrical licensing. The amendment to the ordinance allows the city to accept a contractor that holds a state license. The proposed amendments have been reviewed by the respective boards.

Council members also passed the first filing of a similar amendment for plumbing contactors.


The City Council of Spencer is committed to enabling and encouraging children, including those with disabilities, to walk and bicycle to school. They aspire to make walking and bicycling to school safe and more appealing, and to facilitate the planning and development and implementation of projects that will improve safety, and reduce traffic, fuel consumption and air pollution in the vicinity of schools.

In an effort to get this program started, you are invited to attend one of the following community workshops: All workshops will be held at Spencer City Hall.

Wednesday, Aug. 20

Ward 15:30-7 p.m.
Ward 2 and 37:30-9 p.m.

Thursday, Aug. 21, 2008

Ward 45:30-7 p.m.
Ward 57:30-9 p.m.

You are invited and encouraged to attend any one of these meetings. If the time and date doesn't work for you in your ward, please feel free to attend any of the other meetings.

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