Covington is changing a handful of city ordinances, including making it mandatory for pet owners to clean up behind their dogs when they defecate.
On Monday night the city council approved the final reading of that ordinance after a couple of weeks of discussion. City Manager Steve Horton said the issue arose because residents were frequently calling to complain about dogs defecating on their property. He said he even saw an example in his own neighborhood.
City Senior Planner Michelle Larsen explored precedents and found examples under storm water ordinances, but said the difficult part is enforcing the law.
The city passed the ordinance, and it will be handled like a regular nuisance complaint and enforced by planning inspectors or possibly police. People can call the city at (770) 385-2000 to report violations. The penalty for violating the ordinance will be the standard city penalty of up to $1,000 or up to 30 days in jail.
City Councilwoman Hawnethia Williams said she believed the ordinance was appropriate because private property should be respected and the fecal matter is a sanitary issue as well. Residents must either dispose of their dogs’ solid waste in a trash can or in a toilet.
Councilman John Howard voted against the ordinance and joked that a lot of people would be "howling" about it.
The other ordinance changes were mostly housekeeping issues. The city fixed an inconsistency between the city ordinance and the personnel policy, regarding how much money city employees, including the mayor and council, could accept as gifts from people, firms or corporations who in any way do business with the city, or may do business in the future. The amount was set at $25, described as a nominal value, to allow for small gifts and lunch meetings.
The city also made a small change to allow the finance director to sign city checks, particularly payroll checks. Because the city clerk position was divided into a clerk and finance director position, this power was not transferred.
The final change was an addition to the soil and erosion section of the city code, which allows the city to set more stringent stream, river and lake buffer requirements than it has currently. Most current buffers are either 25 or 50 feet.