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Marble Falls officials approve animal-control ordinance, consider stricter property rules

MARBLE FALLS — City officials approved an amended animal-control ordinance July 3, including a “grandfather” clause for residents who already own so-called invisible fences to keep dogs confined.

Officials also are looking at more stringent rules for vehicles parked in yards and placement of outdoor furniture to enhance the city’s appearance, said City Manager Ralph Hendricks at the regular City Council meeting.

Meanwhile, owners of existing electronic pet containment devices have until Oct. 3 to register and begin paying a $40 annual fee, according to the ordinance passed during the session.

Otherwise, the ordinance requires pet owners who have outside animals to erect physical barriers, such as a kennel or a fence. No new electronic fences are allowed.

In addition, the council also approved steps to request variances to the rule and a section providing a grievance procedure for attacks by animals on public employees.

“It’s protecting the city workers, gas or electric company workers. All those that may have a tendency to get into the backyard,” Police Chief Mark Whitacre said. “The first time, we let the property owners know, they were trying to do some work and couldn’t because of the animal. If it happens again, we can bring them before court and reference it as a nuisance.”

An addition to the amended ordinance, which took about a year for officials to hammer out, excludes horses from references to livestock, Whitacre said.

“When you think of livestock, you may think of horses,” he said. “Horses are not prohibited anywhere in the city limits of Marble Falls as long as they’re kept within a required storage area.”

Exceptions to the livestock prohibition include property zoned agricultural; annexed agricultural property and “grandfathered” applicants, according to the ordinance.

In other business, council members discussed potential changes to the city’s property maintenance ordinance.

Discussions included parking of personal, recreational, service and other vehicles on residential property as well as placement of outdoor furniture, use of carports and lawn care on city rights of way.

Hendricks said streamlining rules could help change the “culture” of the city, enhance property values and reduce the number of neighbor complaints.

“A lot of people talk about property rights,” Hendricks said. “Move that toward property rights of neighbors and the appearance of our community to visitors.”

Recommendations include:

• Allowing no more than three vehicles parked on improved surfaces on a residential property; additional vehicles could be parked curbside or in the backyard.

• Allowing no more than one work vehicle per residence; the aim is to prevent violations of single-family zoning.

• Prohibiting outdoor furniture, playscapes and barbecue grills located in either the front yard or parking areas for more than 72 hours each use.

“Everyone of us knows someone who these (rules) would affect,” Councilman Ryan Nash said. “It’s a start, but we might get hit later and have to adjust it.”

Staff is expected to include additions and changes recommended by the council and present the proposals at an upcoming meeting.

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