Newtown news of 25, 50, 75 and 100 years ago, from the files of The Newtown Bee. ...Read Full Article
There is a sign above a speed limit sign at Fairfield Hills on Simpson Street I found perplexing. It states:
Leash or similarly restrain all animals on town property
Clean-up and dispose of your pet’s waste
Only service animals are permitted in public buildings
Horses must remain on approved trails
Any violations shall be punishable by a fine
Prohibitions pursuant to Town of Newtown Ordinance #254
What is Ordinance #254? I found no such ordinance when I typed it into the search box on the town website. In fact, I got one of those 504 Gateway errors. I did a bunch of Google searches and came up with a variety of numbers, ordinances and fines. Ordinance #254 was beginning to feel like Area 51.
First I found this PDF, which states:
The Town of Newtown welcomes you to the Fairfield Hills Campus. The Town strives to maintain a safe and beautiful campus for everyone’s use and enjoyment. In order to achieve this, the town will be enforcing the Animals on Town Property Ordinance #254. The Ordinance states that animals must be on leashes at all times and owners of pets must remove any solid waste left by their pets and dispose of it properly. (Please note, the Parks & Recreation Department does not allow any animals on playing fields.)
The Town of Newtown Police Department will be enforcing this Ordinance. The fines for the Ordinance are as follows: First Time Offense — $49; Second Offense — $92; Third And Subsequent Offense — $99.
This seems to be a vague overview of Ordinance #254 but doesn’t give you the source. Next up I found a portion of a 2009 Park & Recreation meeting minutes in an archive:
Recreation Director Amy Mangold attended a Fairfield Hills Authority meeting to endorse Parks and Recreation’s support of the trail during which the issue of the problem with dog waste on the trails was addressed. Mangold explained that there were in fact doggy waste bags on the trail and that people were taking the boxes of bags from the dispensers. The Parks crew will be working to remedy that problem. Animal Control Officer Carol Lee Mason has been patrolling Fairfield Hills to ensure that residents are abiding by the Animals on Town Property Ordinance #254. The police have issued two tickets at Fairfield Hills for dogs that were not on a leash. Mason has reported seeing some improvements and she will continue her patrols.
So we know that in 2009 Ordinance #254 did exist. But then I found this webpage:
Animals Ordinance No. 84, Chapter 113
Attention Fairfield Hills Campus Visitors
The Town of Newtown welcomes you to the Fairfield Hills Campus. The Town strives to maintain a safe and beautiful campus for everyone’s use and enjoyment. In order to achieve this, the town will be enforcing the Animals on Town Property Ordinance No. 84, Chapter 113.
The rest of the copy is the same as above for Ordinance #254 but the fines for the ordinance are reduced to… First Time Offense — $25; Second Offense — $50; Third And Subsequent Offense — $99.
At some point Ordinance #254 morphed into Ordinance 84. Did the fines for violating the ordinance go down? What the heck is Chapter 113? Well, I put that in the town’s website search and found it to be the code on Animals on Town Property and got this:
Adopted by the Legislative Council 3-7-2007 (Ord. No. 84)
Article I Animals on Town Property
This article shall be known and may be cited as the “Newtown Pet Control Ordinance.”
The purpose of this article is to keep the public buildings and other Town-owned properties (collectively, “Town property”) free of unsupervised and roaming pets and clean of animal waste. It is not intended to override or repeal any existing regulation or policy of the Newtown Park and Recreation Department that bans pets and horses from Town parks.
113-3 Prohibited Conduct
No person shall bring into, permit, have or keep on Town property any dog, cat, household pet or other animal, except: A. Dogs, cats or other animals outside of public buildings if held in control by a leash or other similar restraint; B. Horses on established bridle trails; C. Service animals such as Seeing Eye dogs in public buildings; and D. Animals which, in conjunction with an event authorized by the Town agency in control of the affected property, are permitted.
113-4 Evidence of Violations
The unauthorized presence of any animal on Town property when not under the control of a leash or similar restraint shall be prima facie evidence of the violation of this article.
113-5 Disposal of waste
All persons bringing animals into or onto Town property shall be responsible for cleaning up any solid waste and disposing of it in an environmentally sound manner.
113-6 Penalties for Violations
Any violation of this article shall be punishable by a fine of $25 for the first occurrence; $50 for the second occurrence; and $99 for each occurrence thereafter.
Nothing herein shall be construed to require the Town of Newtown to post its property, nor shall the lack of such a posting be a defense to a violation of this article.
Why didn’t the town update its sign with the new ordinance number? How does one know what are approved horse trails at Fairfield Hills? When was the last time someone paid a fine for violating the ordinance? Is there any enforcement of dog owners who don’t pick up after their pets? I’d be curious if anyone has a history of the evolving ordinance or can answer these questions for me, as I almost stepped in another dog’s fresh poop today while walking my dogs through the fruit trail. Don’t forget, there are plenty of dog waste bags along the trail.