The Newport City Council met Tuesday in its regularly scheduled meeting but no members of the general public attended.
Despite the lack of an audience, the council discussed an issue that had arisen at the August meeting over a complaint of dog noise.
A resident requested a variance in the city’s dog law, which limits the number of dogs owned to four, because she was unaware of the restriction, pointing out that several of her dogs are elderly and in poor health. She promised to not have more than four dogs, as her pets die.
At the Tuesday meeting, City Manager James Finchum told the council Knoxville has a policy which allows a homeowner with hospice animals to exceed the limit of four, with an annual permit. Animals cannot be replaced, above the four head limit.
“What got her on our radar was neighbor complaints about the barking. I told her even if we can work out an exclusion for her she would still have to address the barking and make her neighbors happy,” Finchum said.
He said the number of dogs owned by Turner does not address the barking issue.
The city manager said employees do not go out looking for those who violate the number restriction, and the issue is addressed only when there is a complaint.
After the council indicated general approval of the proposal, Finchum said he will present an ordinance at the October meeting.
The body also took up the issue of grass clippings blown onto city streets. Finchum has received numerous complaints regarding the issue, and he said he has found streets covered in clippings. Currently there is no restriction against blowing clippings onto a thoroughfare, and some homeowners purposely blow the clippings onto the street. It can cause an issue for motorcyclists.
“You can wreck in a heartbeat on wet grass on the street,” he told the council. Finchum added storm drains around the city frequently get clogged with grass clippings.
Alderwoman Louanna Ottinger asked what options the council has to address the issue, and in response Finchum said the council could establish a code to outlaw the practice, with a fine for violators.
Chief of Police Maurice Shults, himself a cyclist, told the council grass clippings on a road are dangerous.
“When you come around a curve and it is laying full of grass, it would just as well be covered in ice.”
The chief suggested an ordinance likely would not be difficult to enforce after several property owners are cited for violating the regulation.
In other action, John Clark was appointed to the equalization board to fill out the term of the late Ray Keifer.
The council was told the asbestos abatement has been completed in the former Tanner School, and the renovation is about to begin.
Members approved the purchase of a new street sweeper at a cost of $225,000, as well as the purchase of two new vehicles for the police department. One of the cars will be purchased with confiscated monies in the drug fund.