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Spencer set limits on outdoor dogs

By Emily Ford
eford@salisburypost.com
SPENCER — Town aldermen steered clear of controversy Tuesday night by limiting the number of dogs kept outside, but not inside, a home.
The amended ordinance, which passed unanimously, allows no more than three adult dogs “to be penned, tethered or fenced outside on a permanent basis” but makes no mention of limiting dogs kept indoors. Alderman Delaine Fowler was absent.
A couple of people attended the meeting because they worried the Board of Aldermen would cap the number of indoor dogs.
“I can’t even put into words how invasive that might be,” Susan Wolf said.
She was the only speaker during the public comment portion.
Aldermen Jeff Morris assured Wolf “nobody will be knocking on your door to ask how many dogs you have inside.”
After the meeting, Aaron Blount said he was satisfied with the amended ordinance, which clears up a previous version that appeared to limit a household to four dogs total.
Months ago, Blount’s wife Melissa was cited for violating the ordinance after a neighbor complained that she was hoarding canines. The Blounts rescue dogs and at the time owned eight small pooches, all kept inside.
Many residents came to the defense of Melissa Blount and her family at a town board meeting. Although the ordinance had been interpreted for years to ban more than four dogs at a home, aldermen agreed the regulation was confusing and didn’t limit the number of dogs after all.
The town dropped the citation against Blount, and aldermen sent the issue to the Spencer Planning Board for study.
Planning Board recommended the amendments. Cages, shelters and pens holding outdoor dogs must be set back 10 feet from the perimeter of the property and can’t be within 50 feet of a neighboring home. Tethers must be at least 15 feet in length and give the dog access to food, water and shelter.
Because the ordinance specifies dogs living outdoors permanently, it appears that an owner who has more than three outdoor dogs but brings them inside for a time each day would not violate the new rule.
Someone would have to watch a home for 24 hours to determine if the dogs lived outdoors permanently, Wolf said.
In other business:
• Aldermen agreed to let businesses have multiple permitted uses, such as a coffee shop doubling as a bookstore.
• The town is saving $200 a month by eliminating pagers.
• Curbside garbage pickup should begin Sept. 1. Public services Director Jeff Bumgarner said employees will visit with every resident before then to deliver a rollout can and give instructions.
• Land management services Director Dustin Wilson said he’s scouting out code violations now. Aldermen eliminated the code enforcement officer during budget cuts.
Aldermen had asked Wilson to look into beefing up the town’s swimming pool and adult entertainment ordinances.
Planning Board determined the pool ordinance is adequate, Wilson said. He is researching potential ordinances governing uses of adult-oriented businesses and limiting exterior signage, he said.
• The board approved a $500 facade grant for 127 Fifth St.
• Fifth Street will close from 5 p.m. to midnight Aug. 27 for the Spencer Jaycees street dance.

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