Sidney City Council discusses animal ordinance updates

SIDNEY, NE — Sidney is looking into updating one of its ordinances. 

At Tuesday's meeting, the Sidney City Council passed amendments to section 618 of the city's codified ordinance through a first reading. 

The proposed changes would update the definition of dog and cat owner, zoning updates concerning livestock and disposal of animal waste. 

Under the changes, anyone who harbors a dog or cat or lets the same habitually remain and be fed in or about their house, store or enclosure for 10 days will be considered the owner. 

That person would be responsible for the dog or cat, including vaccinations, shelter, etc. 

Sidney Police Department Code Enforcement officer Lisa Hanley says the change is proposed in response to reports of people feeding feral cats in downtown Sidney. 

"Then I can go talk to them and say, 'You're feeding this feral cat, now you're the owner,'" Hanley said. "'Now you're cat's at large and it needs to vaccinated. Do you want to take on that responsibility and continue to house and feed this cat and it be your pet?' No I don't think they will. Right now, I think that's the only way around stopping residents from feeding feral cats."

The zoning update would clarify the property zones that allow the keeping of livestock. Hanley told the council, the current writing is out of date and includes some zones that Sidney does not have. 

"We wrote it to align with our zoning codes," Hanley told the council. 

With these changes, the keeping of sheep, horses, cattle, mules, donkeys, goats, pigs or other hooved and cloven-footed animals and domestic or wild fowl would only be allowed in areas zone AR (Agricultural Residential.)

The above mentioned animals would also be permitted in R1a (Rural Residential Estate Zones) and A (Agricultural) zones for non-business recreation of the owner for one animal per lot or acre if the lot is larger than one acre. 

The third update clarifies the owner of an animal is responsible for picking up and disposing of their pet's waste. 

A second reading will be held at the city's next council meeting on June 22. If you have concerns, you are encouraged to call the city office or attend the next meeting. 

The city council also approved recommending approval of three liquor licenses Tuesday. Beans and Steams Coffeehouse, Smoker Friendly and Winner$ all applied. Their applications now move on to the Nebraska Liquor Control Commission.

RDG Planning and Design was also awarded a contract for coming up with conceptual designs for trail and beautification projects for the Old Post Road corridor. 

There is a budget of $740,000 for the project that was collected through a Cabela's Occupation Tax. These are not city funds and they have to be used for projects along or adjacent to Old Post Road.