County schedules public hearing for Jan. 12 to discuss leash law

Published 5:44 pm Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The Chilton County Commission voted Monday to schedule a public hearing for Jan. 12, 2015 at 5 p.m. to ask for the public’s input on whether they should pass an ordinance adopting a “leash law.”

Initially, commissioners voted Nov. 24 to schedule the public hearing on Dec. 8, but it would have provided the public 30 days notice of the hearing that is a standard procedure commissioners follow for public hearings.

Commission Chairman Allen Caton said he would work with county attorney John Hollis Jackson to establish guidelines for the hearing and discuss the guidelines with commissioners before the hearing.

Commissioners are seeking the public’s comments for a proposed bill that focuses on dogs running at large.

The meeting is open to the public and focuses on an ordinance adopting state code section 3-1-5 of the code of Alabama 1975, which is commonly referred to as a “leash law.”

After a lengthy discussion on Nov. 24, commissioners came to the conclusion it would be best to ask for input from the community before adopting something that would affect every resident living in Chilton County.

Although the topic has been discussed numerous times throughout the years during commission meetings, the issue of Chilton County having no way to enforce animals running wild in the county came up at the Nov. 10 commission meeting.

If commissioners chose to adopt the “leash law” ordinance, those living in Chilton County could be faced with fines for not adhering to the code.

The code states: “Every person owning or having in charge any dog or dogs shall at all times confine such dog or dogs to the limits of his own premises or the premises on which such dog or dogs is or are regularly kept. Nothing in this section shall prevent the owner of any dog or dogs or other person or persons having such a dog or dogs in his or their charge from allowing such dog or dogs to accompany such owner or other person or persons elsewhere than on the premises on which such dog or dogs is or are regularly kept. Any person violating this section shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be fined not less than $2 nor more than $50.

“This section shall not apply to the running at large of any dog or dogs within the corporate limits of any city or town in this state that requires a license tag to be kept on dogs nor shall this section apply in any county in this state until the same has been adopted by the county commission of such county.”

Commissioners had to formally vote Monday to schedule the public hearing for Jan. 12, 2015, and rescind the former resolution scheduling the hearing for Dec. 8.

Commissioners also voted to close all county offices Dec. 26 to extend the Christmas holiday for county employees.

Commissioner Shannon Welch said he spoke with city officials in each of the four municipalities and found out all of them were closing the day after Christmas.

“It doesn’t make much sense to have county employees come back for one day and work,” Welch said.

Several commissioners pointed out that state employees will also be off Dec. 26 and agreed the offices shouldn’t remain open.

Commissioners unanimously voted in favor to close all county offices Dec. 26 for the Christmas holiday.

County offices will also be closed Dec. 24-25.

Commissioners also voted to approve item requests by three county departments for rate increases for certain employees in their departments.

County engineer, county tax assessor and county tax collector requested rate increases which were covered under each department’s budget and commissioners voted to approve the pay increases as requested by the three departments retroactive from the Nov. 24 commission meeting.

In other news, the commission:

•Authorized Caton to sign grant documents for grants at Minooka Park.

•Approved a request submitted by Chilton County Industrial Development Coordinator Fred Crawford to hire an intern from December to April.

Although the intern will cost the county money, Crawford said the funds were set aside in his budget to cover the cost of the intern.

Several commissioners questioned if the intern was a resident of Chilton County or had future hopes to be employed in the county.

Crawford said the intern lives in Chelsea and graduates in May from the University of Montevallo and could hopefully establish contacts within the county for future employment.

Commissioners Greg Moore, Welch, Joseph Parnell, Heedy Hayes, Bobby Agee and Caton voted in favor to approve the request by Crawford.

Commissioner Joe Headley voted against the motion.

•Voted to approve the hire of Nicholas Bolton as the deputy director for the Chilton County Emergency Management Agency.

•Voted to approve the purchase of a side-cutter for the road department.