Town of Westbrook to Consider Dog Ordinance

WESTBROOK – The creation of a dog ordinance, reallocating town money covering legal expenses, reallocating money for the purchase of a catch basin cleaner, an ordinance to create a Senior Citizen Advisory Committee, and a change in the tax relief program are all on the agenda for a special town meeting on August 31 at 7 p.m.

Animal Control Officer Tanya Marocco said the proposed dog ordinance has three components dealing with removal of dog liter, mischievous animals, and dogs at large.

The “dogs at large” portion of the ordinance includes provisions prohibiting dogs from leaving the property of its owner or keeper, requires dog owners to fit a dog leash or chain around the animal when it leaves the owner’s property, and prohibits dogs from being on any public beach in town.

Those in violation of these rules would be subject to a fine up to $100 per violation.

The “mischievous animals” portion of the ordinance requires a town’s animal control officer or constable investigate any complaints that a dog is creating a nuisance or has damaged private or public property to investigate.

If allegations are found true and the owner or keeper has been warned, the individual would be cited for failure to restrain or control the animal.

The “removal of dog liter” portion would make it unlawful for any owner or keeper to allow a dog to “defecate upon any private property owned by another person, town property, condominium common elements, street, sidewalk, beach, gutter or other public area, including but not limited to parks and school grounds, unless such person shall remove the feces so deposited in a proper manner before leaving the immediate premises.”

Those visually impaired or physically unable to remove the animal waste would be exempted from this portion of the ordinance.

When asked whether similar shoreline towns have similar ordinances, Marocco said she was certain the towns of Madison and Clinton do not allow dogs on their town beaches while Old Saybrook allows dogs to cross the beach at low tide during the off season.

In addition to the dog ordinance, residents will be able to vote to create a Senior Center Advisory Committee consisting of seven members for three year terms.

The members would receive no compensation except for expenses and the committee would be authorized to apply for state and federal grants.

An ordinance to amend the tax relief for the elderly would not require participants of the Heart program to disclose liens on their residential properties in writing and not require them to provide proof of active homeowners’ insurance policy.

Most other sections of the town’s tax relief provisions for the elderly do provide exceptions for participants in the Heart program.

Regarding financial transactions, the largest proposed transfer is $30,592.50 from the unappopriated fund balance to the legal account to cover legal expenses during the 2005/2006 budget year.

Other budget transfers include $3,425 to the Board of Finance for part time payroll, $1,200 for a Board of Finance auditor, $1,900 for Board of Finance legal ads to cover over expenditures during the 2005/2006 budget year, and $25 for Board of Finance supplies.

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