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Cottonwood Heights passes ordinance on e

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Posted by: EricWI at Sat Feb 8 07:58:38 2014  [ Report Abuse ] [ Email Message ] [ Show All Posts by EricWI ]  

Cottonwood Heights passes ordinance on exotic pets

Twenty-five. That’s the maximum number of “exotic animals” that can be kept on a residential property in Cottonwood Heights with proper permitting.

In a move that makes it the only city in Utah to restrict the number of exotic pets allowed in a home, the city council voted 4-1 in favor of a municipal code amendment that more clearly defines and regulates the possession of exotic animals. Council members expect parties from both sides of the issue to be disappointed with their decision.

“It’s probably a good balance, because I’m sure those who are advocating greater restrictions won’t be happy that we didn’t go lower than 25 and those who don’t feel like there should have been any restrictions will be mad that we put any limitations in,” Mayor Kelvyn Cullimore Jr. said during the council’s Jan. 28 business meeting.

Under the revised ordinance, an exotic pet is any animal that isn’t specifically limited or prohibited elsewhere in the code. The broad category may include a wide range of species—from parrots to snakes.

The possession of more than five, and up to 25, of these animals in any combination requires an exotic animal hobbyist permit. The keeping of more than 25 requires a commercial animal establishment permit and the animals must be kept at a conforming non-residential location.

Additional restrictions on housing and transport are included in the code.

The revision comes at a time when many cities across the state are enacting changes that actually remove limits on the number of pets homeowners can keep.

Councilman Mike Shelton voted “no” on the ordinance and expressed concern that the “arbitrary” limitation on the number of permitted animals represents an overreach of the government into the private lives of residents.

“This code gets many things right….Where I think this code gets it wrong is, taking all the restrictions that the code requires…we are left with animals that have a near zero impact on anyone outside of their owners,” Shelton said. “The impact of these permitted animals is significantly less than the impact of a large number of other permitted things.”

Cullimore said the decision was a balance between private property rights and the responsibility of government to address the concerns of residents in the city.

The council spent nearly nine months researching, discussing and debating the issue after residents in the Hollow Ridge subdivision notified officials that their neighbor, Thomas Cobb, was housing 29 boa constrictors in his home.

Following an inspection, code enforcement officials cited Cobb for not having a proper permit for his snakes, which he later obtained. Because of the animosity Cobb said he felt from his neighbors, he has since moved out of the area.

Under the old code, adopted from Salt Lake County, the keeping of an exotic pet required an exotic animal permit. Residents and city officials differed on their interpretation of the code, with many residents believing the ordinance only allowed for one animal per permit. City officials disagreed, but felt further clarification of the code would be beneficial.

Shane Richens, owner of Scales and Tails in West Valley City and a supporter of Cobb, praised the city for its in-depth approach to the ordinance. While he would’ve preferred to see the higher limit of 50 animals that was recommended by a Weber State University expert, he said he respects the council’s decision.


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