The Athens City Council on Monday unanimously amended a section of its existing animal ordinance to ban the tethering of dogs and also set parameters for dog enclosures.
Dogs weighing 30 pounds or more must be kept in an enclosure measuring at least 225 square feet. Dogs weighing 30 pounds or less must be an enclosure measuring at least 100 square feet.
The amended ordinance also allows residents to utilize invisible fences, which utilize shock collars for dogs. City Attorney Shane Black told the council invisible fences would be acceptable if “in good working order.”
The amended ordinance does not allow residents to keep an animal on a carport, but an enclosed garage is acceptable.
Council President Harold Wales and other animal rights advocates served on a committee that examined the tethering issue. He said the committee worked on the issue for about three months.
“Huntsville voted this same ordinance in at their last meeting,” Wales said. “It's following suit with other cities, and it will protect the pets we all love.”
Black said the amended ordinance would go into effect March 1. Those who do not comply face a fine of at least $50.
Elsewhere, the council voted to charge the city of Madison 20 cents more for Athens Utilities to process Madison garbage pickup fees for those living in Madison-annexed Limestone County. Athens Utilities had been charging Madison 75 cents per month per customer, but the council voted to raise the cost to 95 cents to cover administrative costs.
Finally, the council voted to enter into an agreement with the Alabama Department of Transportation for intersection improvements at Pryor and Dexter streets, the new entrance to Athens High School and Elm Street. The estimated project cost is $2.1 million, but the state is covering up to $950,000 of the project cost.
In other business, the council:
• Accepted a low bid from ABB for one 46-kilovolt circuit breaker for the Athens primary substation at a cost of $33,900;
• Approved a special events on-premises alcohol license for the Athens-Limestone Public Library Foundation Inc. as part of an upcoming fundraiser;
• Set a public hearing date of Jan. 14 to consider whether to vacate concerning a public alley behind Market Street Church of Christ;
• Moved a public hearing regarding a rezoning request made by Athens Land Company from Nov. 26 to Dec. 10. The property is being eyed for a potential apartment development off Lindsay Lane; and
• Heard Mayor Ronnie Marks read a correspondence from a resident of Quincy, Florida, who thanked Athens Utilities line workers for restoring power following Hurricane Michael.