By JIM ANDERSON
KINGSFORD - The city of Kingsford is allowing a waiver for a dog owner who has challenged the city's ban against pit bulls.
City attorney Bruce Brouillette recommended that John Ketola be allowed to have the "service animal" at his residence, provided it is kept confined. Brouillette said his recommendation was "based on federal statute, after having received additional information relative to this unique issue."
The determination included input from a physician, he said.
In earlier discussions with the council, Ketola had described his dog, Dexter, as a "therapy dog" with 25 percent Staffordshire terrier blood.
Brouillette initially said the dog was banned under the pit bull ordinance, but on Monday the city council agreed to grant the exception/waiver.
The city's pit bull ordinance is valid and constitutional, Brouillette said, but Ketola is entitled to a waiver.
Ketola, who had legal representation, attended Monday's council meeting to hear the outcome of the recommendation. He had not received a copy of the waiver in advance of the meeting, so it was not clear if he found the terms acceptable.
Brouillette said the waiver had been reviewed with Ketola's attorney, who was not present at Monday's meeting.
Under the recommendation, the dog must be securely confined in the Ketola house or in a secure outdoor enclosure with sides, top and permanent bottom - unable to be entered by a minor on their own accord. Also, when Dexter is not at the Ketola property, he is to be kept securely leashed on a harness, under the direct control of Mr. Ketola.
In other action, the council:
- Received information from city resident Mark Wiederrecht, who contends that the ban on pit bulls is unconstitutional and unnecessary. The city has general ordinances dealing with vicious and dangerous dogs, but only pit bulls are specifically prohibited. An hour-long discussion ensued, with several citizens speaking against the pit bull ban and council members raising safety issues. In June, the council accepted a committee recommendation to make no changes in the 1987 ordinance that bans all pit bulls in Kingsford, including mixed or partial breeds. Mayor Michael Flaminio, however, said the committee continues to look at the issue.
- Announced that the city is accepting applications from licensed hunters who would like to participate in its 2012 deer management archery hunt. The hunt will take place beginning Oct. 1 on designated parcels of seven acres or more. The city has purchased 100 Michigan Department of Natural Resources harvest tags at $15 apiece and may acquire up to 50 more at a later date. For more information, visit city hall or call (906) 774-3526.
- Increased potential city funding to resurface the Lodal Park tennis courts to $17,000. Formerly, the city had committed up to $11,250. The city is seeking a Recreation Passport Grant of up to $45,000 from the state to resurface the courts next year. Projects selected for funding will be announced in November, according to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.
- Heard City Manager Tony Edlebeck report that the city has received a premium rebate of $10,905 from the Michigan Municipal League Liability and Property Insurance Pool.
- Learned from Edlebeck that a recommendation may be made to the council by mid-October in choosing a successor for City Treasurer Roger Scott, who plans to retire at the end of 2012 or early 2013.
Jim Anderson's email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.