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Marble Falls animal ordinance far from purrfect, critics say; another public hearing set

MARBLE FALLS — The city is barking up the wrong tree with proposed changes to the Animal Services ordinance, critics said Nov. 16.

After several residents voiced concerns about the revisions, the City Council during its meeting decided to hold another public hearing Jan. 3 before approving any alterations to the animal code.

“It seems like there is a lot more information out there,” Councilman John Packer said.

Council members agreed parts of the ordinance related to bee-keeping, registration fees for feral cats and the prohibition of livestock from land designated for an agriculture exemption need to be re-examined.

“I think we need to take another look at it,” Councilman Ryan Nash said. “It sounds like more vetting needs to be done.”

Police Chief Mark Whitacre said the Animal Control Advisory Committee started work on the ordinance last August.

The committee included himself, City Manager Ralph Hendricks, Animal Control Officer Bryan Wendt and Greg Wilson from the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

During time set aside for public comment, Debbie Sapp said the committee neglected to seek input from Hill Country Cats and other local animal advocates.

Hill Country Cats is based in Horseshoe Bay.


“I am very disappointed Hill Country Cats were not included,” Sapp said.

Hill Country Cats have trapped and neutered about 4,000 feral cats and have found “good homes” for several felines since the group started five years ago, she added.

However, the proposed registration fee of $10 in the ordinance could hurt their cat-rescue activities, Sapp said.

“It is going to cost us so much money,” she added. “It could be prohibitive.”

Also, the proposed ordinance could discourage bee-keeping, Mary Ellen Goth said.

“Honeybees are disappearing,” Goth said. “Honeybee-keeping should be encouraged.”

The proposed ordinance allows bee-keeping if a bee hive is located at least 150 feet from the hive owner to another dwelling.

“That is too far,” Goth said.

Another look is needed, said Mayor George Russell.

“Any ordinance ought to have a review period to see what is working,” he added.

Also during the meeting, the council:

– Adopted the 2011 National Electrical Code and the 2009 International Energy Code.

– Authorized refinancing on Series 2002 general obligation bonds to save more than $102,000 on debt service through fiscal year 2019-2020.

– Approved a concession agreement for Zumba Fitness classes at Lakeside Pavilion through March 31.

– Directed City Attorney Patty Akers to research nuisance ordinances in other cities.