A rule that would limit household pets in Hillsboro homes to a total of four was cut from the city’s proposed zoning code update on Thursday in an attempt to assuage concerns from local animal owners who would have been in violation of the rule if it was approved.
Council’s Zoning and Annexation Committee met Thursday to address the rule, which made the rounds on social media in the days leading up to an April hearing that drew a crowd of pet owners and concerned citizens that spilled out into the hallway at the Highland County Justice Center as area animal lovers demanded the measure be stricken.
As previously reported, the code update — Hillsboro’s first since the 1950s — was crafted by the Hillsboro Planning Commission and an outside consultant. The nearly 100-page document has been in the works for more than a year, officials said, and according to planning commission Chairman Tom Eichinger, it is still a “living document” that will need revisions.
Council heard a first reading on approving the update at its April meeting.
On Thursday, Zoning Committee Chairwoman Wendy Culbreath said she believes Hillsboro should have clear animal control rules on record, but not in the zoning code.
Culbreath added that any such rule should address the quality of animal care rather than the quantity of pets, an argument which was brought up multiple times at the April hearing.
Eichinger requested the matter be brought before council and placed into the appropriate committee. Zoning committee member Justin Harsha said the issue will likely be placed in the Street and Safety Committee.
Committee members agreed Thursday to remove the rule from the zoning code.
The committee also revised a section of the code dealing with non-conforming properties.
According to the code, even after the update is approved, properties that did not conform to its regulations before its passage are essentially grandfathered in and do not have to change unless they are unoccupied for 180 days or more. The committee changed that time frame to one year.
The committee also revised a portion of the code that deals with small-cell wireless facilities, clarifying that restrictions on antennas on structures only apply to commercial structures and not residential ones.
In other business, the committee discussed ways to get the public more involved in the legislative process, including publishing meeting agendas in local media, televising council meetings and increasing social media presence.
Reach David Wright at 937-402-2570, or on Twitter @DavidWrighter.