Cracks down on fire hydrant parking
By John Faucher
The Hortonville Village Board voted to allow residents to keep two more pets on their premises, at its Aug. 17 meeting.
The ordinance prohibited residents from keeping more than two dogs and two cats on their premises.
The newly amended ordinance will allow residents to keep up to four dogs and/or cats in any combination.
The maximum number of animals will remain four.
The ordinance does not apply to premises holding a valid kennel license, small caged birds, animals, reptiles or amphibian animals, or those used for agricultural reasons.
The Village Public Safety committee met to discuss the ordinance Aug. 10 and recommended the change to the village board.
Peter Olk, board trustee and chairperson of the committee said that the number of requests for variances to the ordinance have risen in the past several months. He also said changing the ordinance would put the village more in line with other communities.
•New London residents can own three dogs and two cats.
•Weyauwega, Clintonville and Winneconne all permit three dogs and three cats.
•The village of Black Creek allows three dogs and an unlimited number of cats.
Olk also noted that the city of Menasha ordinance allows a total of four dogs and/or cats, in any combination, which is proposed in Hortonville.
The village has not forced residents to ditch a pet in the past. Rather, it granted exceptions to those people on a case-by-case basis. He said the proposed amendment would save residents from approaching the village on the matter, and save the village board time.
Olk said if the ordinance changes to four dogs, and/or cats, no further variances should be granted for fifth or sixth animals.
The committee also wanted to see a tracking system for complaints.
If police have to respond to three complaints or violations in a year or less, Olk said the police department would report it to the safety committee for review and possible action.
In 2015, the committee considered amending the ordinance to allow for a five-pet limit with a maximum of three cats or three dogs. The amendment did not move forward to village board.
At the Aug. 10 meeting, committee member Jack Kuhnke reiterated he has noticed a spike in the number of request they receive monthly for variances to the ordinance.
“I like animals,” said Kuhnke. “My suggestion would be that we leave it as four as a maximum, and who cares what the combination is. It could be three and one, four and zero.”
Committee members agreed.
At the Aug. 17 village board meeting, Village Attorney Robert Sorenson noted that the change would be to the ordinance language. Enforcement would remain up to the police department and the board’s role rests in policy decisions.
Trustee Kelly Schleif made a motion to move forward with amending the ordinance to allow up to four dogs and/or four cats. The motion carried 6-1 with Dawn Vollbrecht voting no.
“I just think that’s too many dogs,” said Vollbrecht.
Fire hydrant parking complaints
The public safety committee discussed a number of recent complaints about residents parking in front of a fire hydrant on the corner of South Nash and Dewey streets.
Olk noted that curbs in many communities are painted yellow to add a visual aid for the no parking areas near fire hydrants.
Committee members recommended the public works department paint the curbs in the village to indicate the no parking areas.
“I know there have been some warnings given out for the instances of parking at South Nash and Dewey Street, but it continues to happen according to some of the residents,” said Olk.
He reported to the village board that the public safety committee is recommending painting the curbs yellow 15 feet on each side of all the hydrants in the village.
“That would probably help, but then we need enforcement on that issue too, so the police department is going to have to keep an eye on those people who park there,” said Olk.
Public Works Director Carl McCrary noted that the village adopted state traffic laws that already specify no parking within 10 feet of a fire hydrant.
“There is no mandate or state law saying you have to paint the curbs yellow. These are common sense laws,” said McCrary.
He noted that public works crews did paint the curb in question on South Nash and Dewey streets, but people are still parking there.
“I’m recommending that we don’t paint every curb in the village yellow in front of fire hydrants. That’s a lot of paint. That’s a lot of man hours,” said McCrary.
Assistant Fire Chief Kuhnke noted that if there is a fire and a car is parked illegally in front of a hydrant, firefighters have no choice but to break the windows of the vehicle to gain access to the hydrant.
The board did not take any formal action on painting curbs in front of fire hydrants, but asked that the police department continue enforcement action in problem areas.
Kyla Werner contributed to this story.