Whitehall City Council adopted an ordinance that will pose stiffer penalties for owners of vicious dogs, and will enforce humane treatment of animals, as well.
Councilman Bob Bailey sponsored the ordinance as an alternative to one proposed by Councilwoman Jackie Thompson that would have banned pit bulls from the city.
"There is still a lot of work to do," said Bailey. "We need to go through the implementation phase, but this is where the rubber meets the road."
Mayor John Wolfe will now have the task of selecting an appeals board.
Councilwoman Leslie LaCorte, who supported Thompson’s ban, gave an affirmative vote for Bailey’s ordinance, because even though it does not offer a ban, it does offer harsher penalties for offenders. She complimented Thompson for her diligence, saying that her fellow council member took a lot of disrespectful heat for standing on her beliefs.
The ordinance says Whitehall will follow the laws set forth by the Ohio Revised Code. City Attorney Michael Shannon said the Staffordshire terrier, American bulldog, American pit bull terrier, and mixtures of those breeds, would be recognized as vicious.
The state law requires $10,000 of liability insurance, a six foot fence, registration and microchipping.
Councilman Wes Kantor told Thompson that he was sorry for all the letters to local newspapers people wrote attacking Thompson.
"We don’t always agree, and everyone has a right to their opinion. We all have to work together," said Kantor.
Resident Barb Penn, who rescues animals, said that she hopes all the name calling and derogatory remarks will cease.
"This serves no purpose, and certainly does not enhance the author. To those who came into our meetings and wrote to council, thank you for taking such an interest in our city," said Penn. "But to be quite clear, all city council members were elected to their seats by the citizens of Whitehall, and deserve an appropriate amount of respect. They are not serving this city by accident."
In other news
•Economic Development Director Dan Lorek presented a public hearing, and council approved a resolution adopting the Port Columbus Area Development partnership, which includes Whitehall, Gahanna, Columbus and Columbus Regional Airport Authority and the Veterans Administration.
The goal is to work in partnership to make the area a premier jobs center, and to create and retain jobs for citizens. The area covers over nine square miles in the four jurisdictions (Whitehall, Gahanna, Columbus and Mifflin Township).
Port Columbus supports 23,500 jobs with a $625 million payroll and generates $2.2 billion in annual economic activity.
Lorek said that aeronautical clusters are developing due to Port Columbus and expansion of NetJets, among other local airport-based businesses.
Port Columbus is expanding its facilities with reconstruction of I-670/International Gateway interchange, a replacement south runway, proposed new terminal, and construction of the consolidated car rental facility – a $642 million investment. The city of Columbus is also proposing reconstruction and upgrades to Stelzer Road, which is a $31 million investment.
Lorek offered that the partnership could reap economic growth for all involved, and stressed the value of joint marketing to capture the financial benefits. It will not change or repeal any zoning classifications, and no funding is required for the legislation.
•Mayor John Wolfe shared that he attended a groundbreaking ceremony for the new Armed Forces Reserve Center to be located at Defense Supply Center Columbus.
The $29 million facility will encompass more that 150,000 square feet, and will provide training, administrative and equipment storage for more than 900 soldiers in the Army Reserve and Ohio Army National Guard. The project should be complete by the middle of next year.
•The next council meeting will be July 15 at 7 p.m.