Purdy City Council shelves livestock ordinance

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

City council reluctant to impose regulations, grandfather rules

Purdy City Council members took one more round of public discussion on a new ordinance to regulate livestock inside the city limits, only to table the proposal in hopes that the “problem” would resolve itself.

Following the discovery that the new nuisance ordinance adopted in January had dropped all previous regulations on livestock, the council drafted a new proposal to limit livestock in the city. Complaints about livestock in town, in violation of the old ordinance but not enforced, prompted the action.

Mayor Bo Prock said that under the proposal, existing livestock would be grandfathered. However, no new offspring would be allowed. If any of the animals died, they could not be replaced. Prock admitted it could prove difficult to track such activity and to enforce the restriction.

“In my opinion, I feel we will make some people mad, no matter what road we go down,” Prock said. “A lot of livestock could fall under the nuisance ordinance.”

As to whether someone could introduce something like a horse as a service animal, Alderman Scott Redshaw said such an animal would have to be registered with the state. Clerk Debbie Redshaw did not think city regulations offered a distinction that would allow sanctuary for such animals.

In response to a question about annexation, Prock said the current annexation proposal for Business Highway 37 south of the city limits did not open land currently used for livestock for joining the city. He did not know of any potential annexations that could further agitate the livestock issue.

At an earlier meeting, property owner Jeff Swadley had argued his location did not pose any potential irritation to other city residents if he had animals. Prock said that assertion got to the heart of the issue on the table.

“Do we govern livestock or not?” Prock said. “I don’t think acreage and distance restrictions make sense. I feel we have to have one rule for everyone.”

“I’m against it,” said new Alderman Bobby Baker. “If you want to have livestock, you should have thought about it before you came to town.”

“I know a man who moved off the farm to get away from animals,” said Alderman Austin Drake.

“My father believes we are in a farming community,” said Alderman Scott Redshaw. “There’s got to be some middle ground somewhere.”

One of the more outstanding exceptions for livestock came from the school district asking to have animals as part of the FFA program. After the city council approved that exemption, enforcement of other situations lagged, with police unclear about where to make a distinction. Redshaw said he felt state law gave the school district liberty to have animals as an education project outside of city regulations.

“If we have to have something, we have to have the document in front of us,” Prock said.

Clerk Debbie Redshaw suggested another option — doing nothing to see if the issue resolved itself. A motion to that effect passed, tabling the ordinance but leaving open the option of reviving it at a future date.

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