W’field revisits animal ordinance

WAYNESFIELD — Waynesfield Village Council members returned to discussing an issue confronting the village for nearly the past year  — farm animals within the village limits.

They addressed the issue at great length Monday, but again took no action. However, Mayor Mike Ridenour urged the council to continue to focus on the issue and make a decision that will be acceptable to all residents  involved.

In August, councilors heard the first reading changing the wording of an ordinance to ban agricultural animals within the corporation limit, but the motion was tabled so councilors could concentrate on updating the village’s zoning code.

The issue came to light in April last year when Police Chief Nathan Motter asked the council to address the issue. Problems with clarity in current village legislation made it difficult to enforce the rules, Motter said. Two property owners  within village limits currently violate the ordinance and have farm animals within the village limits.

Becky Clark, who lives at one of the residences in question, currently has six horses. Another resident, Larry Sutherland, owns several sheep.

Clark requested the ordinance not be enforced.

Ridenour said it was time for councilors to start arriving at an answer for the dilemma.

“We need to come up with a reasonable solution,” Ridenour said.

Clark requested to be able to replace horses as they die and requested for any grandfather clause that is adopted by the council to allow her to do so.

Councilors discussed the intention of the 2004 ordinance, with most believing the intent was to allow existing animals to be allowed. Whether Clark could replace the animals has been a topic of debate.

“I think the intention was to eventually work out the animals,” councilor Chris Kaufman said.

The potential move could cause major problems for the village.

Ohio law includes horses as farm animals, so the village could not pass any ordinance specifying horses being allowed while other farm animals could not.

This leaves the councilors with two options, either passing a new ordinance and grandfathering in the two residents currently with farm animals, or dropping any legislation all together, which would open the door to other residents harboring animals.

Clark, who was in attendance at the meeting, requested she be allowed to continue to harbor the horses.

“There has never been a problem before,” Clark said.

“Where we stand we are willing to work with you if you are willing to work with us,” Ridenour said to Clark. “We potentially have a problem where others are asking why they can’t have horses if someone else is allowed to have horses.”

Councilors are currently reviewing the zoning regulations of Auglaize Township in Allen County as a guideline to establishing a new, clear-cut code for the village.