ES council votes to enforce livestock law

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

By Samantha Jones

After a year of debate, it’s official: These little piggies cannot stay home.

The Eureka Springs City Council voted Monday night to enforce a 1952 law banning livestock in city limits, and that includes swine. Alderwoman Mickey Schneider kicked off the discussion by asking the council to combine two ordinances regarding changes to the animal law. The proposed changes would set a sunset clause on pigs currently living in city limits and would set requirements for animals left on unoccupied property.

“When all this was originally going on … we had discussed making it two ordinances,” Schneider said. “We went through all this last June, so rather than have these separated, it’s just two little amendments to the whole animal law that is already in existence.”

Schneider remembered the council’s previous discussion, saying mini-pigs are not the same thing as swine.

“You have a small pet. The small pet is not food,” Schneider said. “They are not swine, which is an edible pig.”

“How do you qualify a 200-some-pound pig as a mini-pig?” asked alderman Terry McClung.

Alderman Bob Thomas said pigs haven’t been legal in city limits since 1952, pointing out an ordinance that outlawed livestock including swine.

“Big piggies, little piggies … they’re all swine, and they were outlawed in 1952,” Thomas said.

Alderwoman Susan Harman said she watched old council meetings to get background on the situation. The proposed change to the animal law is for one household in Eureka Springs, Harman said.

“We’ve got one household that has two illegal pigs, swine, whatever you want to call them,” Harman said. “They have snouts. They look like a pig, they act like a pig and they smell like a pig. We’re trying to change an ordinance for one household in Eureka Springs.”

In the meantime, Harman said, the pigs have been living in city limits illegally.

“We haven’t done anything to address that,” Harman said.

Schneider said the council wouldn’t be changing the ordinance.

“We are updating it, because back when this ordinance was written, there was no such thing as a potbellied pig,” Schneider said. “A potbellied pig is to swine as a dog is to wolves. You do not raise a potbellied pig to eat for dinner. Ergo, it’s not livestock.”

Alderman Harry Meyer said the pigs are livestock.

“Most anybody will call a pig livestock,” Meyer said. “They get up to 400 pounds. I’ve seen them. They get big. We’ve allowed these animals to reside in the city without an ordinance that allows them to be here.”

Thomas moved to ask Mayor Butch Berry to enforce the 1952 ordinance banning swine in city limits, and Schneider said that wouldn’t go well.

“To avoid a citywide protest, I would highly suggest this get put to the people to make a decision in November,” Schneider said. “If you sit there and actually think you’re going to take away somebody’s pets just because one person gets a bee up their butt, you’re going to be surprised at the reaction of the city.”

McClung called for a vote, but before it took place city clerk Ann Armstrong read the motion.

“I understood it to have the mayor make sure the law is enforced,” Armstrong said.

“Enforce the law? You mean take the pigs away?” Schneider asked.

“Yes,” Berry said.

Thomas raised his hand to comment, and McClung reminded the council it was time to vote.

“She said, ‘Does that mean we have to remove these pigs?’ ” Thomas said. “I think the lawyers said very clearly it doesn’t mean anybody has to remove anything.”

“We’re getting off-subject,” Berry said.

“The decision has been made to vote,” Armstrong said.

The council voted 4-2 to enforce the law, with Harman, McClung, Thomas and Meyer voting yes and Schneider and Melissa Greene voting no.

In other business, the council considered a request to appeal the planning commission’s decision to deny a conditional use permit (CUP) for overnight lodging at 4 Ming. Planning chairwoman Ann Tandy-Salee said the code requires neighbors to give input on CUPs, saying 50 percent of the neighbors asked the commission to vote against the request. Representing property owner Derral Gleason, Damon Henke said many of the neighbors own second homes and aren’t in Eureka Springs full time.

“It really doesn’t matter how often any other property owners are around,” Thomas said, citing the code.

Greene said she wants to respect the planning commission’s decision, saying she received letters from neighbors asking the council to deny the appeal.

“The two letters I got were very respectful. They were not mean-spirited,” Greene said. “They just do not want this in their neighborhood, and they have that right.”

Schneider moved to deny the appeal, and the council unanimously voted to do so.

Also at the meeting, the council approved a resolution setting a public hearing date to vacate an alley below Kimberling Alley, voted to destroy obsolete city records, approved a resolution allowing the city to apply for a grant to renovate the fire station for city meetings and agreed to discuss proposed changes to the food truck ordinance at a workshop.

The council’s next regular meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Monday, July 8, at The Auditorium.

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