Breck City Council ponders changes to animal, nuisance chapters

One of the biggest changes was the addition of a limit of four cats a household can have at one time, City Administrator Renae Smith said.

The Breckenridge City Council discussed an ordinance that would amend the city’s animal and nuisance code at a Monday, Oct. 4 meeting.

The first reading of the ordinance was approved on a 3-2 vote, with council members Chris Vedder and Scott Wermerskirchen voting against it, and council member Rick Busko absent.

Wermerskirchen said he felt the ordinance was unneeded and that the existing language was sufficient. Vedder said in the meeting she felt certain amendments would be difficult to follow or were superfluous, such as an owner needing to be responsible for their animal’s urination.

“A lot of the changes that were being made, I felt, personally, were already there,” Wermerskirchen said. “Yes, they were more specific, but all the picky, little things — I say leave it as it is, unless something better comes along or there is a better need for changing it.”

The section already included definitions of a nuisance animal as one that habitually or frequently cries or barks; frequents school grounds; chases vehicles; molests or annoys a person if such person is not on the property of the owner; molests, defiles or destroys public or private property; and/or runs at large.

One of the biggest changes was the addition of a limit of four cats a household can have at one time, City Administrator Renae Smith said. The previous language did not include a limit. The ordinance also states that cats are subject to the running at large section.

Other amendments include changing the word “dog” to “animal” in Chapter 58, Article II of the code, as well as adding language to the paragraph that warrants the owner of an animal responsible for its behavior when the animal defecates, urinates or vomits and causes an unsanitary condition in a public or private place.

The ordinance also adds, “The accumulation of any animal waste on public or private property is declared a public nuisance and is subject to enforcement and abatement… .”

City personnel may remove an animal that is committing a nuisance or who has committed a nuisance and impound it if the owner is unable or unwilling to prevent the nuisance behavior, according to the ordinance.

Smith said the ordinance to sections pertaining to nuisance animals started with a conversation between Breckenridge Police Chief Kris Karlgaard and Building Official Chris Loehr on potential needs.

“It originated with Chief Karlgaard and the building official so that they are able to enforce certain things that we’re not able to enforce currently without an ordinance,” Smith said.

The changes were previously discussed at a police committee meeting prior to the ordinance being brought to the council. Alissa Harrington, associate attorney with Flaherty & Hood, was also present at Monday’s meeting to answer any questions.

In addition to the changes to the animal nuisance sections, Harrington had suggested adding a section on general nuisances and blight since the city did not previously have one. Smith said the move was not spurred by any particular actions in the county, rather it is common to have such a section within a city’s code. The additions include definitions of public nuisance, blight and junk.

A second reading of the ordinance will follow. The next Breckenridge City Council meeting will take place Monday, Oct. 18.

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