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Barking dogs make Newton neighbors unhappy; planning commission tries to help

September 26th, 2009 Posted in Opinion

By Kelly Greenwood
NEWTON — The Newton Planning Commission discussed a newly implemented pet ownership ordinance, subdivision plans, building codes and other community matters Thursday.

Commission Chairwoman Helen Rigby first addressed the dog kennel conditional-use permit, an ordinance designed by the commission to control excessive dog barking in response to resident complaints. The ordinance was recently sent out to dog owners for their compliance signatures, and Rigby read over a few of the signed ordinances.

One Newton resident, Jeff Watkins, spoke out about the issue and said he wants to emphasize responsible dog ownership.

Watkins said he and his wife have sleep problems and need to leave the windows open at night. They have often been woken up by their neighbors’ dogs, he said.

“I’d like to see the dogs inside after 10,” he said.

Rigby responded, saying, “all we can do is issue the conditional use permit.”

Kim Parkinson, a dog owner and Watkin’s neighbor, was present for the meeting. She said she and her family are working on controlling their dogs’ barking.

“We’ve been putting up with your dogs for a long time. It gets to a point when enough is enough,” Watkins said to Parkinson.

Parkinson said that though she can’t be home 24/7 to monitor her dogs, she is trying very hard to work with them.

“We’re trying to be good pet owners and good neighbors,” Parkinson said.

“We appreciate that you’re trying,” Rigby said.

Town Clerk Karla Ferguson mentioned that the town mayor would like a list of anymore known problems with animal owners and mentioned that sometimes the complaints are too general for anyone to do anything about them.

Commission member Jason Goodsell said that the Newton Town Council is pushing to control animal ownership and said that he appreciates the open dialogue regarding the issue.

The commission also discussed plans for a new subdivision in the town. Susie Maughan, a Newton resident who owns three lots of land, presented plans for the subdivision. The commission discussed land management, water drainage and other issues with the developing subdivision.

Rigby also brought up a concern about a town resident who is building a barn. She said she has tried to contact the resident about a building permit, but has not been able to reach him. The commission members discussed this, and it was decided that Rigby would continue to pursue it on her own.

The commission also discussed their building code and zoning literature, and Rigby encouraged members to study up on the code books. Rigby proposed that next month the commission have an agenda and workshop about building code.

“We really need to address some of the water issues,” Rigby said. She said that some lots of land drain into the road and that something needs to be placed in the commission’s literature that instructs people not to run their yards out into the road.

The commission also discussed the Envision Cache Valley program. Rigby said that a community-wide senate will be held on Oct. 14 regarding the scenario and that implementation strategies will be discussed.

Rigby then thanked the commission, and the meeting was adjourned until Oct. 22.

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