Council says ‘no’ to dog leash ordinance
By DEB WUETHRICH
A 4-3 vote by Tecumseh City Council members set aside plans to go forward with a proposed dog leashing ordinance, which city officials have been considering for several months. The council members passed a first reading on the ordinance last month, with council member Dick Johnson not in favor of it. Monday night’s action items included a second reading of the ordinance, which was approved, with only Johnson voting no.
Johnson read a statement outlining some of his reasons for opposing the ordinance change.
“I believe the current law is sufficient,” he said, adding, “Some think I’m against putting a leash on a dog. Nothing could be farther from the truth.” He said his own dog is leashed whenever leaving his property. “I just don’t believe we need to change a perfectly good ordinance to create a very narrow definition of what it is to be in control of your dog.”
Johnson further stated that the council’s consideration of the matter started when a citizen came before the council.
“It started with a request brought by one individual with problems that could have and should have been solved by the legal system,” he said. “With a revised ordinance, even those dogs trained to stay on their own property must be physically with their owners,” which Johnson said punished owners who have trained their pets to remain on their own property when allowed outdoors. He questioned whether small dogs that accompany their owners away from home by being carried in totes would also be subject to the 8-foot leash requirement. Johnson stated that he agreed with a statement made at a previous meeting by Council member Larry Van Alstine that leashing is just something responsible dog owners do.
“I agree wholeheartedly and agree with that in most instances,” he said. “My dog, however, is trained to stay on his property. Whenever anything is going on outside he will stop at the sidewalks.” Johnson also noted that the Tecumseh Police Department has received few complaints regarding the issue. “If we need to address the dangerous dogs part of the ordinance, then we should do that, but we do not need to punish dogs and dog owners for what a small part of the population does,” he said.
Johnson again voted no when the ordinance came up for adoption under new business, and was joined by council members Gary Naugle, Mayor Harvey Schmidt, and Pat Housekeeper, with the mayor commenting that he’d had some reconsideration after hearing council member Johnson’s comments. Tecumseh City Manager Kevin Welch said that the matter is now over unless the council members choose to bring it back in the future.
The council members also met earlier Monday night in their capacity as Tecumseh’s Brownfield Redevelopment Authority (BRA) to learn more about what might be expected of them if the authority is called upon to assist Consolidated Biscuit Company, which anticipates relocating in the former Tecumseh Products facility. James Harless, Ph.D. of Soil and Materials Engineers, took the members through some of the technical aspects of what the BRA could be asked to do, including developing Tax Increment Financing for the project. The group was later approved to act as a consultant to the BRA. Harless said the consultants would walk the BRA group through the first one, if the CBC project goes forward and they are called upon. Welch said, “We could not do this without retaining one of these services. There is no way we could do this without somebody with that type of knowledge in place.”
In other business, the council members:
• Heard a report from Welch that the city received grant funds for Maumee Street work for a 50 percent match of the $250,000 project, leading to the industrial section of Tecumseh near the proposed CBC plant. He said the city also has listed the street as a high priority project that might be eligible for the other half of the money through stimulus funds.
• Approved an amendment to the Cemetery Ordinance which would close Brookside Cemetery between the hours of dusk and 5 a.m.
• Approved a bid from MKD Enterprises of Onsted for grinding and removal of the city’s brush pile, which includes logs. The city has allowed some residents to come and cut from the logs, but needs help with the base pieces. Streets Superintendent Duaine Wells said the city can no longer keep a pile and it is necessary to get rid of several years’ accumulation.
• Approved the 2009-2010 road salt contract, which is required to be done in March, with prices to be determined at a later date through a cooperative purchasing contract.
• Approved Strategic Plan goals for Economic Development, Quality of Life, Sustaining and Improving Infrastructure, and Maintaining Tax Base and Housing Values.
• Appointed Miller, Canfield, Paddock and Stone of Detroit as Brownfield project attorneys.
• Authorized the establishment of a new fund titled Tecumseh Brownfield Redevelopment Authority Fund to better track finances designated for specific business transactions that could be conducted.
• Approved the purchase of a back-up generator for the Tecumseh Emergency Services Department for a total of $36,950, with the city’s portion to be $5,714. Insurance would pay for the rest due to a fire to the generator.