PLEASANT VIEW -- Council members are discussing what defines a public nuisance in hopes of clarifying the issue.
City Administrator Melinda Brimhall said the city has two separate definitions of what a public nuisance is. One is specific to animals and the other is geared toward a general nuisance.
Recently there have been complaints from residents about animals regarding both their care and noise level.
"I'm bringing this to the attention of the council for discussion," Brimhall said.
She asked if the council would like to see any changes in the city ordinances regarding public nuisance. She also said the city attorney said there was no conflict in having separate definitions for the two types of nuisances.
"We could probably make some changes to the ordinances to strengthen them," Brimhall said.
Councilman Mel Marker asked why something becomes a nuisance at the magic number of three complaints from residents.
"This is just a quote of state law," said Community Development Director Bruce Talbot.
Councilman Toby Mileski said the current ordinance states it is a nuisance if an animal disturbs the peace of two households or more.
"If it disturbs one resident, it should be (a nuisance)," said Mileski, "I would like to see a public hearing set for the next meeting where we change the ordinance."
"I do think there are some changes we could make any way you want," Brimhall said. "One reality is the practicality of things and what is legally defensible. If an officer does not witness the offence and you take it to court, the prosecutor would not prosecute and we would probably lose."
Brimhall said according to the ordinance, the complaint could read that the problem was witnessed by an officer, or the complaining party could sign a complaint and come to court and be the witness.
"If we want to make changes, we need to put it in the ordinance," Brimhall said.
Mileski said the city public nuisance ordinances have not been changed since 1987, and said if one person has a complaint about a nuisance, that is one person too many.
Brimhall said with only one complaint that could insert the city into a situation where there are arguing neighbors.
"I don't believe that is our position," Brimhall said. "If we enforce the law with one person (complaining), it will be constant, with a 'he-said, she-said' and neighbors pitted against each other for eternity."
Mileski said an animal can disrupt a person during the day if they are sleeping and he feels a complaint coming in, even if by only one person, still needed to be addressed.
Mayor Doug Clifford said the city needs to look at each case individually.
"Toby mentioned the ordinances haven't been updated since 1987," Brimhall said. "It could mean it has been working and that is why we have not updated it."
Brimhall also said, "Just because something hasn't been updated recently doesn't mean it is not working."
Brimhall said Code Enforcement Officer Glen Willie has been doing an excellent job for the city.
Clifford said Pleasant View is a city with a good neighbor approach, not a city that tries to police people in the community.
"We don't go in hard-nosed with people, we try to work with them," Clifford said. "We are very gentle with people. In some cases it works, in some it doesn't."
Clifford also said residents who had recently complained about their neighbors' dogs were not willing to sign the complaint themselves, and local law enforcement has not witnessed problems at the site.
Brimhall said the issue would be brought back to a future meeting after staff has a chance to review public nuisance ordinances from other communities in the area.