Dog Owner Rights Hottest Issue at Greene Supervisors meeting

By Pauline Hovey, Greene County Field Officer

Despite a long list of agenda items for the Greene County Board of Supervisors’ Tuesday night (2/8) meeting, the majority of the crowd attended for one reason: to stress dog owners’ rights to keep their dogs roaming free. The county’s current leash law pertains only to certain zoned areas, making it difficult and frustrating for animal control to enforce, so the supervisors were considering whether to repeal the current code and amend it to cover the entire county. The issue of citizens’ rights, especially in relation to their animals, can sometimes become emotional, and that was true at the public hearing  with the half dozen residents who spoke against amending the law and the lone person who spoke in favor.

Although supervisors related mixed feelings about this issue, the county’s recent growth combined with the number of complaints they receive about dogs running loose, prompted the need to look at resolving this problem. Both Supervisor Carl Schmitt (at-large) and Chairman Steve Catalano (at-large) stressed the number of negative calls they’ve received about loose dogs over the years. “Bar none, the #1 complaint I’ve had since I’ve been on the board is this one,” Catalano said.

“The important issue is that the law apply across the board,” Supervisor Buggs Peyton (Stanardsville) argued. He noted that when animal control receives a citizen complaint, the officer should not have to pull out a county zoning map to determine in what area the dog is located and whether or not the area applies to the leash law. Supervisor Jim Frydl (Ruckersville) said that although the dog owners who spoke against the leash law are responsible owners, they cannot assume that others are as responsible. “The intent is to control those who don’t control their dogs,” Frydl said. He then made a motion to repeal Section 14-61 of the county code and enact it with new wording applying the leash law to the entire county.  The Motion passed unanimously.

In other matters, supported by the county’s economic development goals and a favorable vote from the Planning Commission, two home-based businesses seeking special use permits received the go-ahead from the Board of Supervisors. One is a gunsmith shop offering a full range of repair services, and the other is a jewelry-making business, which will conduct its transactions online. Special use permits were required because both businesses sought to construct a small structure on their properties from which to conduct the business outside of the main dwelling. In both cases, supervisors fully supported the home-based businesses.

The quarterly report from the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) revealed the status of projects the supervisors have requested, specifically the Mutton Hollow project and the extension of the turn lane from Rte. 29 onto Rte. 33 where the new Super Wal-Mart is located. VDOT’s Karen Kilby reported that although a “small amount of money” is available for the lane-extension project, the agency does not have the workforce currently available to do this and would therefore have to “contract out” for the project. With tongue-in-cheek, Supervisor Schmitt asked if any of the State’s newly funded transportation projects would be coming to Greene. Kilby  explained the money is going to projects “already defined,” and funding to Greene “will remain the same” – the only possible new projects affecting the county would be any federally funded bridge repair work. Expressing some humor on the subject, Supervisor Frydl suggested when filing requests for project funding, Ms. Kilby rep could help the county by spelling Greene “F-A-I-R-F-A-X.”

Supervisors also unanimously agreed to a request from the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) to erect a monument on the courthouse lawn to recognize local American Revolutionary war patriots. The county will not incur any cost related to this monument, as the DAR is seeking funding from its organizations.

Pauline Hovey is the Greene County Field Officer for the Free Enterprise Forum a privately funded public policy organization.  If you find this report helpful, please consider supporting the Free Enterprise Forum.  To learn more visit www.freeenterpriseforum.org

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