Issues About Animals; More on Meter Pits in Barnegat Light

Now a Dog Limit at Dog Park

Two dogs per person is the limit allowed at the borough dog park on West 10th Street, Barnegat Light Borough Council voted at the September monthly meeting. The amendment to an ordinance was passed on second reading after a public hearing.

Last month, Mayor Kirk Larson said the borough had gotten complaints about people bringing a large number of dogs. Several council members agreed about the difficulty of supervising even several dogs at once.

A proposed ban on feeding wildlife on private property did not pass due to a tie in yes and no votes. The mayor, who can vote to break a tie, was absent. So, right now, it is not illegal to feed wild animals, including sea gulls, although it would have been if an ordinance introduced last month had passed on Sept. 12. Instead, there was doubt about the need for the action.

The issue started with complaints about a resident feeding sea gulls that were filling “her whole front yard” and leading to “noise” and “droppings” onto neighboring property. Councilwoman Dottie Reynolds reported that since then, the woman “bought a device to scare sea gulls from the property in order to make amends,” and that the woman said she has stopped feeding the birds.

There was much more discussion around this, both on council and among the audience. Some said a ban would be too forceful; others feared that if no ban was on the books, a problem could happen again.

Reynolds was not in favor of the proposed ordinance, saying, “If we can accomplish what we wanted without an ordinance,” it might be better than imposing the rule for something that “might” happen in the future. There are residents who do feed animals “on a minor scale,” she said, “and don’t like to think that they would be disobeying the law.”

Finally came a vote, which ended in stalemated limbo.

“They voted to reject it and it was a tie; they voted to table it until October, and that was a tie,” Municipal Clerk Brenda Kuhn summarized.

To answer the question of what happens now, Borough Attorney Terry Brady advised that the ordinance “can be revisited at any time in the future,” but “the public hearing is concluded.”

A rule on meter pits was another much-aired topic. Proposed is an ordinance that would require meter pits to be found and exposed before a property could be transferred to another owner. Also, if the meter pit was badly damaged, such as caved in, the homeowner would be required to replace it.

The ordinance was introduced on first reading in title only because the wording has not been fully compiled yet. A public hearing is scheduled for the Oct. 10 meeting.

The borough plans to replace existing meters with a newer, digital-readout form that measures water usage, as many other municipalities have done. For residential customers, the project could take place possibly next year but is not planned before that.

For months, borough council has been telling residents to locate their meter pits that are covered by pavers or landscaping, in preparation for the project. The homeowner could also have a plumber find the pit.

“We’ll block it out for them and tell them where to look,” said Councilman Ed Wellington.

Because certain details were not set in stone at the September meeting, the topic will be discussed further next month.

Another measure that passed was less controversial: allowing parking in front of the museum at Fifth Street and Central Avenue as an exception to a summertime ban on parking along Central.

— Maria Scandale

Reposted from The Sandpaper