Cambridge revisiting animal ordinance, could make changes

CAMBRIDGE, Idaho - The City of Cambridge is considering changes to its code that would allow for enforcement measures under specific circumstances.
 During their latest monthly meeting, held Monday, July 11, city council members consulted with Washington County Sheriff Matt Thomas on potential changes aimed at avoiding situations where residents are cited for code violations but refuse to correct the problem. 
 The city’s attorney, Steve Stuchlik, participated in the discussion via conference call.
“There is no bite in our current code,” Mayor Mark Loveland told the Weiser Signal American in a phone interview on Thursday. “We can write infraction after infraction. In fact, people could say, I’m just not going to pay the ticket, and nothing happens. We want to go from, basically, spinning our wheels in the mud, to getting people to respond to what we are saying.”
 Monday’s discussion about a potential future code change appears to have been spurred by a situation involving property owners who were boarding three horses on property located within city limits.
 Animals such as cattle, donkeys/burros, goats, mules, sheep, and horses are allowed, but under specific conditions.
 Under the “Harboring Livestock” section of the city’s code, “A minimum of one acre is required to harbor livestock, of which, a minimum of one-half acre must be pasture.”
 The owners of the aging horses and the property where they were boarded, a husband and wife in their late 60s, were told their property did not meet the city’s requirements and that the city had received numerous complaints about the animals.
 After an exhaustive search, they were not able to find appropriate accommodations and were not willing to send their animals, which they considered part of their family, to auction.
 As a result, the couple received dozens of citations, which began piling up and would have cost thousands to pay.
 The couple and the city recently came to an agreement.
 “That issue has been resolved,” Loveland said. “The horses have been removed and with their willingness to remove the horses, the city dropped all of the fines against them.”
 The owners did not respond to a request via email for comment.
 Washington County and the City of Weiser have both recently suffered through their own code struggles, the county dealing with some residents who refuse to clean up their property, which effects other homeowners, and, in Weiser, code interpretations on whether animal shelters are allowed within city limits. 
Washington County solved its particular problem through a new ordinance that gives it authority to levy corrective measures if needed.
 Cambridge intends on doing the same.
 “We don’t have the resources to send a deputy to someone’s house every week or every month and give them a ticket for the same thing over and over,” Loveland said. “There has to be consequences, so that is what we are trying to get educated on, trying to see what would work and wouldn’t work.”
 Loveland said the city is looking into a potential process that would include an initial warning followed by an infraction and then, possibly, charges.
 “You would get a warning and have time to correct the problem, but after that period, if you didn’t get something done, you’d get an infraction,” he said. “After that, I’m not sure if it would be a misdemeanor or what, but someone would end up paying a huge fine or go to jail.
 “We were (on Monday) discussing it with our attorney and with the Sheriff and seeing if it is feasible to do it like that and I think we have come to the conclusion, on the majority of things, that it is totally feasible. There are some things, as we go through our code book, where we’ll determine which codes that applies to and which ones it doesn’t, but it’s going to be a work in progress.”
 Loveland said the process will take months, but that the city hopes to have the code change completed before the first of the year.



Signal American

18 E. Idaho St.
Weiser, ID 83672
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