Rabbits to be allowed in Gibson City limits

By ROSS BROWN
bluehavanaross@gmail.com


GIBSON CITY — Gibson City residents will soon be able to own rabbits legally within city limits.

During Monday night’s city council meeting, Alderman Nelda Jordan discussed the ordinance committee’s recommendations from its May 22 meeting regarding whether rabbits should be allowed in city limits. Though Alderman Scott Davis acknowledged that residents have had rabbits as pets for years, it currently is not legal under city ordinance.

Under a proposal from Jordan, the rabbit ordinance would be virtually the same as the chicken ordinance approved last spring. Each family would be allowed up to six rabbits on one property, while offspring would be allowed up to two months after birth.

Jordan included a $25 application fee in her proposal, which she said would pay for administrative costs, but council members decided to scrap that portion after complaints from Heidi Walls, a resident whose daughter cares for rabbits as part of a 4-H project.

Walls mentioned to the council that dog and cat owners do not have to pay an application fee, though the animals must receive regular vaccinations. Walls said it would not be fair to those like herself who own rabbits.

“I don’t understand why pet rabbit (owners) have to pay $25,” Walls said. “You’re singling out that dogs and cats are OK to have without paying $25, and somebody that has one rabbit as a pet instead of a dog or a cat has to pay $25 a year.”

Alderman Dennis Pardick requested a one-time fee instead of an annual application fee, noting that residents already pay high taxes.

Davis said he knows of several residents who already own rabbits.

“I know of people in town who have rabbits already; I’m not going to say who they are,” Davis said. “They’re not going to come up to City Hall and pay $25.”

Walls then said that she would probably be singled out because she has brought up the rabbit issue.

“Everybody knows I have rabbits, so they’ll go knocking on my door every year,” Walls said. “I’ll be the only one paying; whereas everyone else I know who has one isn’t going to pay.”

Police Chief Adam Rosendahl said his officers would not go door-to-door to conduct compliance checks.

Walls brought up the fact that her daughter is raising the rabbits and not herself.

“(She) wants to do her hobby herself,” Walls said. “She doesn’t want me to pay for her. She wants to make money to take care of them herself, and that’s going to be another $25 a year that she’s going to have to come up with.”

Pardick suggested the chicken and rabbit ordinances be scrapped altogether. But City Attorney Marc Miller noted that an ordinance legalizes the practice.

“The reason behind the ordinance is to make sure that there’s compliance with the coop requirements for the chickens, and so you’re not having the police responding repeatedly to complaints,” Miller said.

Mayor Dan Dickey noted the city would not be making much money by charging a fee, and Alderman Susie Tongate said the revenue would not amount to much.

“I don’t think there’s going to be enough of it to make a difference,” Tongate said.

Among other proposed ordinances that Jordan reported on was a permit for food truck operators. Jordan said vendors would be charged a $20 daily fee or $100 annually, and would need a special license to operate on city-owned property. Nonprofit organizations would be exempt from paying the fee. Jordan noted that the Ford County Public Health Department has good regulations in place already.

Jordan mentioned an ordinance change proposed earlier by City Superintendent Randy Stauffer that would increase the cost to homeowners requesting a water tap or new water meter to be the entire cost of installation plus 10 percent of materials. Stauffer mentioned several months ago that the city was losing money by only charging homeowners for installation costs.

Jordan told Miller that he would need to discuss a proposed ordinance regulating solar panels with Dickey.

Other business
Also at Monday’s meeting:

➜ Following a request from Miranda Leonard, Dickey said he would put a proposed resolution on the next meeting’s agenda that would rename the main ball diamond at the city’s West Park in memory of longtime athletic supporter Roy Roemer, who died last October. Leonard said 200 people have signed an online petition requesting the field be named for Mr. Roemer, who attended an estimated 3,500 local sporting events in his lifetime.

➜ Dickey said he would place an outdoor liquor license request for the Gibson City American Legion post on the agenda for the next meeting. The Legion’s Steve Anderson told council members that the Legion is hosting a benefit on Aug. 11 for the family of Joshua Turner, who died last month during a fire in his Elliott home.

➜ Billie Jo Denny updated council members on the proposed West Park skatepark. Denny said a Queen of Hearts raffle winner won $9,000 recently but donated a significant amount back to the skatepark committee. Denny said a second raffle is currently valued at $5,500. Denny asked about the committee’s separate savings account, and Miller told her that it would be best to transfer the funds into the city’s account. Denny then asked about the jackpot money since she said that amount fluctuates weekly. Miller asked Administrative Assistant Peggy Stalter to contact the city’s audit firm to discuss a transfer of those funds.

➜ Rosendahl said he is planning to buy a 2012 Chevrolet Impala from Atwood for $9,000. Rosendahl said he was close to finalizing an $11,000 transaction earlier, but village board members in the Douglas County community backed out of it. The vehicle has 40,000 miles and is fully equipped, and Rosendahl said he plans to wrap the exterior with the police department’s logo and colors. Rosendahl said the police department’s budget includes money for the purchase.

➜ Council members granted water plant operator Mark Webster a $1 increase in hourly pay retroactive to last month, now at $29.50 per hour. Webster recently obtained a Class 2 license certification.

➜ The council formally approved an ordinance change prohibiting parking on 10th Street next to the West Park and Hearthside Foods.

➜ Council members approved the purchase of six industrial fans for the North Park’s avilion at a cost not to exceed $21,000. Dickey said the fans are quiet and would cool the pavilion during events.

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