OSWEGO, NY – Proposed Local Law #2 of 2010 remains in limbo.
At Monday night’s Common Council meeting, aldermen tabled the resolution regarding the local law after several citizens and some councilors expressed concerns.
If passed, Local Law #2 of 2010 would amend Chapter 63, Animals, of the Code of the City of Oswego.
As of Jan. 1, NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets will no longer be responsible for dog licensing; the state has shifted that task to local municipalities.
Recently, at the committee level, Animal Control Officer Amanda Fleming and City Clerk Barb Sugar, provided councilors with some other changes to be included in the law along with the licensing.
Among the other tentative changes are:
“No household shall be permitted to possess more than three unaltered dogs or three unaltered cats over the age of 6 months without first obtaining a kennel license.”
“Farm animals include, but are not limited to: goats, sheep, chickens, ducks, horses, cows, geese and swine. Exceptions for special events by educational institutions and others may be granted by the Licensing Authority. Residents already possessing said animals as of Jan. 1, 2011, may continue to possess said animals, providing: notification to the animal control officer; animals are not allowed to relocate within the city limits; and the number of animals must not increase.”
Several people spoke out against the proposal at a public hearing prior to the council meetimng.
First Ward resident Judy Santore said she agreed with the part of the law that would prohibit dogs from being tied up in the front yards, on tethers that would allow them to reach the sidewalk.
“This change is long over due,” she said.
There are plenty of places for sale in rural areas if people want to have farm animals, she said, adding that would be the safest thing for the neighbors and the animals.
Those animals “belong on a rural setting, not in the middle of a city,” she said. “It’s not fair to the animal to be cooped up … farm animals belong on a farm or in a rural setting.”
However, city resident Mike Goldych pointed out that there is room in some parts of the city if someone desired to have a goat, for example.
Jonathan Schell from Cornell Cooperative Extension of Oswego County told the council, “I work on behalf of the 632 farms in the county.”
The local law would be restrictive to the youth who raise certain “farm” animals in the animal science program for Cooperative Extension, he pointed out.
“Oswego County is in an agricultural district; in which part of the city of Oswego does fall,” he said. “And, as the economy grows tighter, a lot of people are growing food at home, particularly having small flocks of poultry to have eggs for their own personal consumption.”
Nancy Weber, president of the Oswego County Farm Bureau, also had some problems with the proposed law.
“Oswego County is agrarian in its nature. We have a long history of agriculture,” she pointed out.
She asked if there was an existing problem that caused “this rather dramatic change in the city’s attitude toward farm animals?”
She said she believes the city’s existing codes were sufficient to address any problems the city might have with a farm animal.
They shouldn’t encourage further codes if they are unnecessary, she told the councilors.
There are already other cities, such as Rochester, that do permit farm animals, she said.
She offered to hold a discussion with city officials to help them consider some other options to the city code than what is contained in the proposed local law.
“I would like to engage in some more thoughtful discussion,” she said.
Alderman Ron Kaplewicz moved to table the resolution. It was seconded by Council Presidnet Dan Donovan and passed 5-2. Councilors Connie Cosemento and Shawn Walker voted no.
The public brought up some very good points that need to be discussed further, Kaplewicz said.
“I would also mention that in the 2020 Vision plan it talks about enhancing agriculture. So we certainly have a community that embraces philosophically what we’re trying to do,” he said. “I think we owe it to these people to at least have a thoughtful discussion on this issue and see if we can’t come up with some appropriate language that will that will deal with this. There’s nothing wrong with having a healthy discussion about something.”
After the meeting, Kaplewicz told Weber he would get with the mayor and schedule a meeting.
“We can talk about the security issue, what Rochester does and other cities. It’s a little bit of an educational thing. In the end, if it means a better quality of life for people, that’s what it’s all about,” he said.