Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Council moving on trap issue, but devil may be in details

By Evan Merrill
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Media

The Midway City Council inched closer to an agreement on lethal trapping, agreed to apply for the old Weisenberger Mill bridge and approved a time for trick-or-treating in Midway at its meeting Monday night.

The council has agreed to not outlaw lethal traps despite the pleas of South Turner street resident Sarah Gilbert made following the death of her cat, Bunny Kitty, in a trap set for groundhogs.

“We felt that could lead to people using poison,” said Council Member Dan Roller, reporting on deliberations of the Finance, Ordinance and Policy Committee, which he chairs.

“The research we did on poison is, animals that are poisoned often then leave the location,” causing the death of additional animals who eat them, Roller said. “Most the research we found determined the legislation that relates to this came about because of animals that were killed in illegal traps, many of which were on leashes at the time.”

Roller said the committee recommended enforcing responsible trapping, in which homeowners or businesses can be held liable for the harming or death of resident animal. He proposed an ordinance that would say, “The removal or eviction of any animal from a property in the City of Midway shall not result in the harming or death of a domestic animal.”

This recommendation would not apply to government animal-control authorities, and a copy of the regulation would be provided to individuals and businesses applying for city business licenses when they indicate their business deals with the removal or eviction of animals. The trapper who killed Bunny Kitty did not have such a license.

Roller said the proposal specifies domestic animals because not doing so would disallow a mousetrap. The specifics of the ordinance, such as punishment for violation, are still up for debate.

Council Member Libby Warfield asked Roller what the penalty for violation would be. Roller said none is proposed, since “pets are priceless,” and people who lose them would still have “legal recourse.”

Council Member Steven Craig argued it’s difficult to hold homeowners responsible for a pet getting into a trap on their own property.  “So if a homeowner sets a trap for a rodent and a domesticated cat comes on to their property and gets into the trap, why is the property owner responsible for the domesticated cat when the cat came onto his property?” Craig asked.

“It’s not quite time for the debate yet,” Mayor Grayson Vandegrift said. At Vandegrift’s suggestion, Craig moved that the proposal be put into ordinance form by city attorney Phil Moloney.

Bonds, bridges, Halloween and more

The council heard first reading of an ordinance to issue bonds totaling up to $50 million for the building of the Lakeshore Learning Materials distribution center, which is expected to bring 262 new workers to the city.

The council also passed on second reading an ordinance for refinancing of bonds for the Providence Montessori school of Lexington. The refinancing is strictly for a better rate on the bonds and the city has no liability, Vandegrift said. The council held a public hearing on the bonds just before the meeting, and no one attended, Vandegrift said.

The bridge over Lee’s Branch in Walter Bradley Park is complete except for some minor work, Vandegrift said. The city will hold a ribbon cutting event on Oct. 15 at 2 p.m. If it’s rained out, it’ll be held the next day at 2 p.m.

The council agreed to apply to the state for the Weisenberger Mill bridge, which the state is replacing. “If we apply for the bridge, we’ll get it,” said Vandegrift. The favored location is over a marshy area in the park.

The council approved Vandegrift’s suggestion that trick-or-treat in Midway be held Oct. 31, from 6 to 8 p.m.

The council also granted an encroachment permit for a driveway to be built at 212 South Turner St.

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