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Orangeville City and the dispute over animals

Animal lover Wendy Larsen attends to her goats on her Orangeville property.

By PATSY STODDARD
Editor

People love their animals and in Orangeville the love of animals is causing a conflict. When there are too many animals then the question of compliance comes into play.

At the recent Orangeville City Council meeting several neighbors and friends of Wendy Larsen spoke in her behalf and also in behalf of her animals during the public comment portion of the meeting.

Phil Fauver said he believes the attempt to try to remove animals off the Larsen property is unfair. There are not that many animals there and that property has always had animals. "When did it change, so that you can't have animals, what ordinance is it," questioned Fauver.

Pat Preston said the animals there on the property aren't hurting anything and she believes that what the city is trying to do is wrong.

Lori Lyon said that Larsen is a good neighbor and she hasn't had any complaints with her. Larsen is a responsible animal owner.

In the midst of the dispute over the animals on the Larsen land, there has been a fencing issue on the side. Mick Rogers is a bordering neighbor to the Larsen property. He wanted to put up a fence, he didn't want to move the fence, just put one up.

Rogers came before the city council, he said he had the property surveyed and as it turns out, the existing fence line was 30 feet off. Rogers should have 30 feet more of Larsen's property. He asked for the city council's recommendation. Mayor Bart Cox said the fence should be put on the property line. "Your rights are to fence your property," said Mayor Cox.

Rogers said he doesn't want any problems so that's why he hired the surveyor at the request of the Larsen's who thought Rogers had 30 feet of their property along the fence line.

Rogers said he just wants to put up a good fence, because a good fence is a good neighbor and it will keep the animals where they to be. He will proceed with his new fence.

Larsen appeared before the council, she showed the council pictures of her property before it was annexed into the city. She has goats, chickens, sheep and horses. The horses can also roam onto the Seely property with permission from the owner there.

Larsen presented several letters from neighbors which stated they didn't have any complaints with the animals and hadn't complained to the city. Larsen raises animals to sell and also has a dog grooming business.

Larsen said she has been in contact with a lawyer who instructed her to request documentation of when the property lost its animal rights.

It was mentioned the annexation of that property into the city occurred in 1979.

Mayor Cox gave some history on the property. He said the animal control is not asking her to remove all the animals from the property, but just to come into compliance and bring the animal numbers down to the three animal units allowed.

At the time of the annexation of the property into the city, the property was owned by Stanton Tuttle who always had animals. It was the goal of the town at that time to remove all animals out of the city.

If people had animals they could keep them. If the land went longer than one year without an animal on the property then the animal rights would be lost. After Tuttle's death, then his widow moved to Wellington for a time and during those three-four years, the property went without animals.

The city changed the ordinance to allow animals in the city with limits on the number of animals. The city wrote the animal right ordinance and in the code defined the number of animals allowed to be three animal units.

Animal units consist of: A. One of, or a proportionate combination of the following;

1. Two cows, two horses or similar large animal, not including pigs.

2. Eight adult sheep or feeder lambs

3. Four goats

4. Thirty-six rabbits or similar small animals, excluding mink.

B. For the purpose of determining compliance, this definition shall not include the unweaned offspring of any residing animal which is less than six months of age.

The question came up of the prior owner of the property having too many animals on the property as well. Mayor Cox said the prior owner never had 75 horses on the property as was reported. He had 13-14 on that property and had other property leased around Orangeville where he kept other horses and moved the horses around on these properties. Mayor Cox said, "We haven't told you to take all the animals off there."

The animal control officer Casey Toomer visited Larsen and her property and instructed her she needed to come into compliance, but never instructed her she had to remove all her animals.

Mayor Cox said there are some options for a solution to the animal issue. Larsen can appear before the Orangeville Planning and Zoning Commission and ask them to change the ordinance. Larsen has 9.5 acres of property. Mayor Cox said Larsen can also petition the zoning commission to have her property de-annexed from the city.

Mayor Cox said the council is bound to uphold the laws of the city.

Toomer reported he had visited Larsen on her property. She has seven horses, 17 sheep, 22 goats, one rabbit and three ducks.

Toomer wanted to clarify a point with the animal issue. He said he never told Larsen she had to remove all her animals. He did tell her he would have animals removed to bring her into compliance. Larsen told him she would consider that a trespass. Toomer told her he would bring a deputy with him if needed. Toomer said he is just doing his job and they have received three anonymous complaints about the animals.

After the animal discussion, Orangeville City discussed the fees involved for people out of compliance on ordinances. This would include not getting a building permit before proceeding with a construction project and all other situations with compliance issues.

The animal non-compliance also came into play again with the ordinance fees. The council voted to issue letters of warning for noncompliance with ordinances. The party would have time during the warning period, to be determined by the zoning administrator, to come into compliance afterwhich a fine would be levied. The fine will be for $250. If the fine is not paid then the fine will accrue at a rate of $250 weekly until paid.

Dennis Tuttle pointed out that Wendy Larsen was served written notice on Oct. 14 and her 30 day warning period would expire on Nov. 14 afterwhich she would be subject to a fine. Tuttle said he had told her she could meet with the Board of Appeals and go to planning and zoning.

The council determined they would send a certified letter to the property owner which is Randy Larsen and make him aware of the non-compliance issue. They will make him aware of the fine which can be levied after 30 days.

Orangeville City Council will put the Larsen animal situation back on the Dec. 11 council meeting. They will discuss the possible de-annexation of her property.

Orangeville City Council will hold a public hearing on fines on Dec. 11.




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