HYDE PARK — The Hyde Park Planning and Zoning Commission completed a new draft of the controversial animal ordinance last week to eliminate “ridiculous” provisions that packed protesters into a City Council meeting in August.
Three particular amendments to the ordinance fueled the anger and worry among Hyde Park citizens, commissioner Mark Hurd said: Roosters and pigs were banned, and minimum half-acre lots were required for horses.
“The restrictions that were added to the ordinance in August caused the public to be very upset,” Hurd said. “Two weeks after the ordinance was passed, people stood shoulder to shoulder at a City Council meeting expressing their concern. There was a strong enough showing [that] it impelled the Council to rescind what they had passed two weeks earlier. We have been working on fixing the document ever since.”
The ban against roosters and pigs will be lifted in the updated ordinance, and the size limit for small animals will be raised from 100 to 250 pounds. Horses will be permitted on half-acre lots, and a 75-foot setback requirement between houses and barns will be lifted.
“Ninety percent of horse owners in Hyde Park are on half-acre lots,” Hurd said. “Some people own roosters as well. The public . . . brought a broad range of discussion and helped us understand what we should do. We refined the ordinance and hopefully got it right this time.”
The revision process was an education for citizens and officials alike, said P&Z alternate Melinda Lee.
“Some people came to the meetings and asked why we needed to change anything. They believed the original animal ordinance was fine,” Lee said. “What those people didn’t understand was the 75-foot setbacks were included in the original ordinance, the one they were fighting for. The citizens didn’t know it and neither did the council. It just goes to show we’re all neighbors and residents, none of us are experts on this stuff.”
The new ordinance not only repeals the previous amendments, but fixes the “ridiculous” setbacks that were included in the original, she said.
Lee said the problem-solving at meetings was an opportunity to bring citizens together, and the commission is grateful for their input.
“It was a great time to educate our people,” she said. “We were able to learn about our city together.” Many residents signed up to receive automatic email notifications and updates linked to the city’s web site, Lee said.
The updated animal ordinance now goes back to the City Council, and a public meeting on the issue will be held in January.