GREEN RIVER — The Green River City Council voted 4-3 to pass the first reading of updated leash laws Wednesday night. The changes must be read two more times before a final decision is made.
Council members Gary Killpack, George Jost, and Ron Williams were the three opposed, while Mayor Pete Rust, and Council members Sherry Bushman, Robert Berg, Mike Shutran voted to approve the first reading.
City Council and residents have previously voiced concerns with animals not being leashed within the city and the possible dangers that can arise when around other people and animals.
Resident Sandra Bowling spoke briefly during the public hearing portion of the meeting to thank the city staff and Council for taking the time to change the ordinance. She has previously spoken to the city about changing the leash laws, as she says her dogs have been attacked by other dogs while out walking in town.
“I really do appreciate you taking the time to phrase it the way you did,” Bowling said.
The Changes and Discussion
City Prosecutor Bobby Pineda and his office with the consultation and support of the Chief of Police Tom Jarvie, have drafted amendments to the current ordinance to address resident concerns.
Green River currently does not have a leash law, but rather operates under two sections of animal ordinances. The city uses Chapter 6, Section 4, and Section 21 of the city’s ordinances to enforce proper care and control of animals.
Chapter 6, Section 4, currently reads as follows:
“It shall be unlawful for any owner to fail to exercise proper care and control of his animals to prevent them from becoming a public nuisance. Excessive, continuous or untimely barking, molesting passersby, chasing vehicles, habitually attacking other domestic animals, running wild game, trespassing upon school grounds, trespassing upon private property, noxious or offensive odors emanating from their living conditions, or unsanitary living conditions shall be deemed a nuisance.“
Chapter 6, Section 21, currently reads as follows:
“It is unlawful for any animal to run at large within the city. Every animal shall be considered running at large when it is physically off the property of the owner of the animal, and not under immediate restraint of a competent person.“
The proposed changes to the ordinance, which have now been passed on first reading, can be seen below:
Councilmember Bushman said she would like for Section 6-21(b)(2) to be adjusted to be “more specific in the language of containment or not capable of engaging in a passerby, just fine tuning the wording.”
However, Councilmember Shutran said he prefers the ordinance the way it is proposed, as he doesn’t want to make it too complicated.
“I’m good with the way it is. I don’t want to make it too convoluted, I like the way that it’s written,” Shutran said.
Chief Jarvie said he and Pineda are open to making any changes the City Council would like, however, they have drafted it to be enforceable and prosecutable.
“I think we followed through with the language that’s best for enforcement and prosecutable. That being said, this is your ordinance, not ours. If you want to make changes or propose changes to be included on the following reading that’s entirely appropriate. We’re here to enforce it after it’s passed but this is our recommendation,” Jarvie said.
Councilmembers Jost and Killpack expressed their opposition to this ordinance change, stating that the current ordinance already works.
“I’m basically opposed to this ordinance, I think what we have works… I hear what people are saying but my feeling is, I can’t see putting anymore restrictions or rules on people,” Jost said.
Killpack said several residents have spoken to him about this ordinance and they have all been opposed.
“My personal opinion is, I don’t think it should be changed for one or two people, so I’m going to vote against it right now as well,” Killpack said.
The second reading of the ordinance will take place at the next City Council meeting, which will be Tuesday, April 18.
The City Council proclaimed the month of April as Child Abuse Awareness Month and Sexual Assault Awareness Month, the week of April 9-15 as 2023 National Safety Telecommunicators Week.
The Council also appointed Noreena Gunter to the Green River Arts Council for a two-year term.
An ordinance amendment that would establish an alternate method for approving subdivisions was unanimously approved on second reading. It will need to be read and approved a final time before going into effect.