Purdy Council discovers livestock ban erased

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Aldermen seek guidance after concerns expressed

After implementing a new nuisance ordinance recently, Purdy aldermen discovered the city's restrictions on livestock are no longer in place, and they have been scrambling to determine options.

Melissa Horn, who lives on Edina Street, expressed concern to the city council about the disposition of her property. The backside of her property abuts the agricultural frontage along Highway 37. The Horns purchased the former Estes house.

Horn said her neighbor, Raymond Stapleton, bought the vacant lot next to her property and expressed an interest in using it for livestock, specifically cows and horses. She noted the fence comes within 15 feet of her house. She wanted to know if the city had restrictions on livestock, the proximity of livestock to other houses, and what protection she had from animal waste draining into her yard due to stormwater runoff.

In the subsequent discussion, Police Chief Jackie Lowe determined that in the process of passing a new nuisance ordinance in January, the council had repealed its old ordinance, and with it, all the restrictions on livestock in the city.

The old 1999 ordinance banned goats, cattle, sheep or poultry, wild or domestic. City Clerk Debbie Redshaw said issues began when David Mareth, with the high school's FFA program, asked the city for permission to raise cattle in the FFA's show barn, east of the school and south of the softball field. Once the city council agreed to that, Lowe relaxed on enforcement, even allowing individuals to have chickens to produce fresh eggs. Animals nonetheless had to be confined. Then, Jeff Swadley got a mule, and cows and goats began turning up in town.

Mayor Bo Prock recalled a time when he smelled livestock for three weeks before his neighbor's pigs broke loose and had to be recaptured on city streets. The field on the west side of Howell Drive has horses, and the west side of Monroe Street has also been open onto a field where livestock have been. One resident had been known to have 15 dogs at one point.

"The cleanest break is to say we're not going to have certain animals in the city limits," said Alderman Scott Redshaw.

Prock suggested establishing a limit on animals, such as a chicken coop. He noted that if the city put a ban on barbed wire, many fences in town would have to come down. Aldermen suggested the school district may have to move its cattle back by its bus barn, which sits outside of the city limits.

Aldermen met again on Monday, discussing the matter again at length. While the new nuisance ordinance offers regulation over a wide range of issues, council members sent several inquiries to City Attorney Darlene Parrigon over what livestock restrictions were open to them. Action is expected at the council's next meeting on June 12.

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