Council elects to vote in new permit-style animal ordinance
By Jessica Benz
Terry Town Council has put to rest a four-month deliberative process regarding the housing of livestock within the town limits. The council voted unanimously for a new permit-style animal ordinance that will require yearly permits to house livestock within town limits, excluding areas north of the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad. The new ordinance will likely come into affect by spring.
Although the decision by the council was unanimous, the viewpoints shared by the nearly 20 residents attending the Tuesday evening regular meeting were not.
“I’m in favor of it and I’m in favor of our council making the decisions,” Terry resident Clinton Rakes said. Chip Mintz expressed a differing view, explaining why he felt the matter should go before a public vote.
“My feeling is this thing is contentious and I think because of that, this thing should be put up for a vote,” Mintz said.
“If this goes to a vote, how many other things will have to go to a vote?” Councilman Josh Helmuth asked.
Councilman Ron Kiosse pointed to phone calls he had received regarding the matter, noting all ended with residents telling him he was elected as a councilman, he should do his job and vote in favor of the ordinance.
No calls were received opposing the ordinance, according to councilmen.
Joe Johnson also spoke in opposition to the ordinance.
“I've lived here for 70 years, and I'm against this thing,” he said.
“We do have elections coming up in the next five months. If you deem that it's necessary to go to a vote, there's no additional expense to the town,” Mayor Marvin Varner told council members prior to the vote.
Mayor Varner performed an informal poll, questioning who thought the issue should go before a vote, and who thought the issue should simply go before the council. The informal vote of audience members ended in a 10-10 tie. When queried, more hands among the general public went up in support of a public vote, while the hands of those at the table, including members of the town council, as well as town attorney Dale Hubber, and town clerk Caryn Rein universally supported letting the decision go before the council, and not onto a ballot.
In the face of the ambiguous outcome of the poll, Mayor Varner stated that the choice was in the hands of the council. At which time the council opted to vote on the issue rather than placing it on a ballot.