Front Royal OKs tether laws

FRONT ROYAL – The town joined Warren County’s effort Monday to tackle animal neglect, voting 3-2 to adopt an ordinance that adds regulations pertaining to tying up dogs “and other canines” and related restrictions.

The council adopted the ordinance on its second and final reading. Vice Mayor Eugene Tewalt and Councilmen Gary Gillispie and William Sealock Jr. voted in favor of adopting the ordinance. Councilmen Jacob Meza and Christopher Morrison voted against the measure. Councilman John Connolly did not attend the meeting.

The rules adopted by the council mirror the regulations previously approved by the Warren County Board of Supervisors. The Warren County Sheriff’s Office handles animal control matters in town.

The new rules require that a tether equal three times the length of the canine. The town and county prohibit tethering canines when:

• The animal is 4 months old or younger.

• The dog is a female in heat.

• The temperature is less than 32 degrees Fahrenheit or greater than 90 degrees unless the dog has adequate shelter.

• The tie is used for more than one dog.

• The tether weighs more than 10 percent of the dog’s body weight.

• The tether is used more than 12 hours in a 24-hour period on a cable run or four hours in 24 hours on a fixed tie.

Meza tried to remove the item from the meeting agenda because of Connolly’s absence. Meza noted the council’s previous split vote on the matter. Meza and Morrison voted in support of the motion to take the item off the agenda and bring it back before the full council. Gillispie, Sealock and Tewalt voted against the motion.

When the council considered the motion to adopt the ordinance on its final reading, Meza reiterated his concerns with the proposed rules. The councilman questioned the need for the town to put regulations in place for a specific animal when the state code already protects against cruelty. The town and county also receive very few complaints of animal cruelty, Meza said. He warned that approving the new rules would set a precedent and could lead to the town further defining how residents raise animals.

The council’s action follows the county’s ordinance and gives authorities enforcement power in town, Sealock said. The councilman said the low number of complaints likely stems from the previous lack of power to enforce the rules. Sealock added that the ordinance would not cost the town any more money as it’s enforced.

Also at the meeting, the council voted to:

• Approve an ordinance on first reading to vacate part of an alley located behind 208 W. Duck St., as requested by Jerry Bell Jr. David Means spoke during the public hearing on the matter and asked the council about the appraisal process.

• Approve an ordinance on first reading to amend the code chapter on solicitors, peddlers and itinerant merchants to streamline the application process and satisfy town customer service goals. Town staff recently learned that food trucks cannot operate at Warren Memorial Hospital because it is in a residential zoning district. Staff suggested adding the hospital as a place of sale under the town code. No one spoke during the public hearing on the matter.

• Approve an ordinance on first reading to amend the fiscal 2018 budget to reflect outstanding purchase orders in the amount of almost $18 million carried forward to complete unfinished projects. Means also spoke during the public hearing on the matter, asking where the money comes from. Town Manager Joseph Waltz was expected to answer Means’ questions.

• Adopt on its second and final reading an ordinance to create a joint towing board with Warren County by amending the town code section pertaining to vehicles and traffic.

• Adopt on its second and final reading an ordinance to amend the town-code section pertaining to weeds and debris to help Front Royal enforce rules for high grass and trash removal. Meza voted against the measure. Tewalt, Sealock, Gillispie and Morrison voted in favor of the measure.

• Appoint Andrea White to the Board of Architectural Review for a four-year term expiring Nov. 13, 2021.

• Award a contract to Syntax Communications Inc. to provide fiber optic cable and information technology infrastructure for the new police department headquarters in the amount of $167,100.