Jul 16, 2008 Mary Schapley Uncategorized
The town of Salina board meeting of July 14 was dominated by talk of cats and codes. The town ordinance regarding cat control came under fire, as did at least one of the town’s code enforcement officers.
Several residents said that the cat control ordinance is not being properly enforced.
“It is not being enforced as to its intent,” said Frank Fedele of Beley Avenue. “I have trapped, treated and returned five cats in the neighborhood and my neighbors have done three. Now the town is trapping the cats and sending them to the SPCA without any due process being sent to me or my neighbors. If anyone has a complaint they should file it and the owner should then be notified. The current actions of the town are not solving the problem and it is not protecting the rights of pet owners. It costs pet owners $170 to get a cat back from the SPCA. The town should either rewrite or do away with the law.”
Linda Young, who operates Kitty Corner of CNY in Liverpool, agreed.
“How the law is being enforced is not how it was intended,” Young said. “I worked on the original law and I am embarrassed to say that now with the way it is being enforced.” She explained that the law is intended to hold cat owners responsible for their cats if the cats cause damage.
“The owners are given a chance to correct the cat’s behavior and are also held responsible for monetary damages,” Young said. “It is supposed to encourage trap, neuter and return for feral cats — as their population declines so does the problem of the cats.” Young volunteered to sit on a committee of pet owners, board members, code enforcers and the animal control officer to look at the law and see if it needs to be rewritten or done away with. She said the expectations for owners were set too high regarding their ability to control their cats and those for complainants were set too low, making it much too easy to complain even if there really is no problem other than they don’t like the cat.
Annette Bailey of James Street, who identified herself as an animal rights activist, said she was appalled by the way the law is being enforced.
“We can do far better for our strays,” Bailey said. “People are not spaying or neutering their pets.”
Bailey suggested the neighborhoods who are complaining “throw some money at the problem and help pay for spaying and neutering.”
“Hauling off animals to the SPCA and taking people’s pets is not a solution,” she said.
Third Ward Councilor Chris Benz said he was surprised at Fedele’s complaint.
“I am a neighbor of Frank’s, and I am surprised someone complained about the cat situation,” Benz said. “The problem with the feral cats seems to have resolved since the neighbors banded together to take care of them.”
He suggested the board schedule a work session to look at the law and its enforcement.
Codes officers under fire
Two residents approached the board to complain that they were mistreated by the town’s code officers.
Peggy Gasley spoke regarding one of the code enforcers who she stated had been very rude to her.
“I called to get clarification about putting boulders on the edge of my property next to the road to keep garbage trucks from knocking down the snow stakes the town has put in my yard,” Gasley said. She is required by code to maintain the yard, which is made increasingly difficult when the stakes are knocked down.
Town Supervisor Mark Nicotra said he will talk with the code enforcer about his rudeness.
John Davies of Nancy Drive in North Syracuse, who ran unsuccessfully for the town board last fall, also spoke of the rudeness of one of the code enforcers, who he said had been rude to his wife. Both residents questioned whether town employees were supposed to be helpful and courteous. Nicotra agreed that they were.
Davies complained of a fence on Carlton Drive that appears to be out of code and that never had permits for it to be built or to have lights affixed to it.
“The code enforcer said, from his office without seeing the fence, that he could see no problem with it,” Davies said.
Davies also questioned the professionalism of the officer.
“Do you expect your employees to come to work dressed for work and ready to start working?” he asked Nicotra, who said he did. Davies then said that this code enforcer comes to work dressed in shorts and floppy shoes, has been seen in the town hall in bare feet and goes to construction sites in floppy shoes which is against OSHA regulations.
Davis raised other questions about the nature of the town’s employees, asserting that two town employees had driven to a training class together and then both put in for mileage for the trip and that the town had several felons working as employees.
“The town doesn’t look too pretty,” Davies said. “Someone is not paying attention to business.”
In other business:
The application of Mufale Family Limited Partnership for a change of zone on a 0.7 acre parcel from R-1 to O-1 located at 6710 & 6712 Buckley Road was approved by the Board. Both Nicotra and Benz said they attended the meeting between residents and the Mufale Builders and once residents were made aware of the details of the project they seemed to be in favor of it.
“Leaving this parcel as residential will not benefit anyone,” Benz said. He went on to say that residents need to attend planning meetings in order to have a say in the development of the land. He will attend with the residents.
A representative of Mufale Builders thanked the board and said they welcome resident participation in planning for the land’s use.