Oconee County citizens will get a chance to comment on a proposed animal control ordinance that will be presented to the Oconee County Board of Commissioners at their agenda-setting meeting Tuesday night.
Sections of the current ordinance were adopted in 1987, with the most recent update made in May 2000.
“We are totally revamping it,” said Animal Control Director Catlyn Vickers. “We are referencing a lot of state code in our new ordinance, and the public will be able to comment on it at the meeting.”
Major changes to the ordinance include an increase in the fine structure, more classifications for aggressive animals, micro-chipping cats and dogs as they come into the facility at the owner’s expense, and extending the time that an owner has before a missing pet picked up by animal control is put up for adoption.
Pet owners whose animals destroy property or hurt other animals would also be required to reimburse victims without the case having to go through small claims court under the new ordinance.
Commissioners will decide whether to adopt the ordinance at their regular meeting Feb. 8.
While Animal Control officials are looking to raise fines, the Oconee County Parks and Recreation department is proposing to lower fees.
Parks and Recreation Director John Gentry will recommend that commissioners modify the rental fees of the softball and soccer fields, and decrease the Heritage Park arena and barn rental fees in order to attract groups interested in hosting tournaments and events.
“What we’re trying to do is encourage multiple-day events,” Gentry said. “Of course, multiple-day events will draw in the usage of the hotel in our county and bring the possibility of more money spent at our Oconee businesses.”
Many of the parks and recreation departments in the state have made reductions to their rental fees in light of the bad economy, and Oconee needs to stay competitive, Gentry said.
Soccer and softball fields are currently rented for $300 per field, per day for tournaments. The proposed plan is to offer price breaks for multiple days based on a sliding scale. The fields, for example, would cost $225 for one day, $200 per field for a two-day event, and $175 for a three-day tournament, according to Gentry.
If commissioners agree to the new program, the fee structure reduction could be on the consent agenda at the board’s next meeting.
Commissioners will also consider a request by RaceTrac Petroleum Inc., which plans to build an 18-pump gas station at the intersection of U.S. Highway 78 and Mars Hill Road, to postpone a variance request the company made last September.
The variance — which was filed along with the original rezoning request granted in October — seeks to decrease a required landscape buffer at the back of the 2.371-acre property from 50 feet to 13 feet.
The engineering firm Williams & Associates, which is handling the requests, declined to comment on why the company has delayed the variance.