Houston & Peach

Byron OKs city attorney office, limits city pets

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The City Council has established a new office for Byron — the office of city attorney.

The council voted unanimously Monday to officially create the office. In past years, the city has contracted with private attorneys to perform city attorney duties. Now, according to Councilman Michael Chidester, there’s the option of continuing that practice or to directly hire someone to fill the post.

For more than a decade, the city has contracted with Macon attorney Joan Harris to act as city attorney and it was Harris who wrote the ordinance. Chidester said Harris is leaving her position because she intends to curtail her practice as she moves toward retirement.

On July 1, the city entered into a contract with Macon attorney Tom Richardson to act as interim city attorney for one year to give officials time to figure out how they want to proceed: who they want to serve as city attorney and how they want them to serve.

In essence, the ordinance creates the new office and sets qualifications, powers and duties. It stipulates a city attorney will serve at the council’s pleasure or for a term of office stipulated through contract.

The ordinance also provides for the possibility of the appointment of one or more assistant city attorneys, contingent on available funds.

Also Monday, the council passed an ordinance determining how street names may be changed and how they may be closed.

The measure, which passed unanimously, states a name change will be considered upon the request of 60 percent of property owners or residents on the street and after appropriate public notification and hearings.

The council heard the first reading of two ordinance amendments dealing with animals and pets that will likely get second readings and be voted on Aug. 14.

One pertains to dogs that are impounded and do not have, or aren’t wearing, licenses. It prescribes a description of the dog be posted at the impounding facility, the police department and at City Hall for seven days.

After that time, the dog may be adopted or disposed of in a “humane manner.”

The second amendment to animal ordinances deals with the number of dogs and cats allowed per residential lot. If approved, the amendment will limit the number of dogs to three per lot and the number of cats to three per lot.

The measure allows owners who have more than three dogs and three cats at the time of the measure’s passage may keep them but prohibits animals over that number from being replaced as they die or as otherwise leave.

It also makes allowances for litters of puppies and kittens to be kept for 12 weeks.

The amendment provides further guidance, exceptions and circumstances for waivers such as not being applicable to residential and residentially-agriculturally zoned lots of five or more acres or potentially to licensed animal rescue organizations.

Mayor Larry Collins said the ordinance amendments are available at City Hall for public view.

Correction: An earlier version of this story included the wrong name of the Byron mayor.