Residents question city's limit on household pets

Thursday, September 9, 2004

In what may be an unprecedented move, the Cape Girardeau Planning and Zoning Commission voted Wednesday night to send to the city council a request to take a second look at its recently passed ordinance regarding the number of pets a household can have.

Jenny and Stephen Stigers of 1343 Big Bend Road applied for a special-use permit for a commercial kennel although what they have is not a commercial kennel as defined by the ordinance. Jenny Stigers said she was concerned that she would be in violation under certain provisions in that ordinance.

Currently the Stigers have five dogs in their home. Occasionally they provide foster care, which might mean caring for a dog with a litter of puppies or caring for strays until a home can be found for them. All of those would put the Stigers in violation of the ordinance if they keep the dogs more than three days. Even if they were to have guests in their home for more than three days; if the guests brought pets, the Stigers would be in violation of the ordinance if the total number of dogs exceeded the ordinance limit.

Several neighbors and friends spoke in support of their request, all questioning the wisdom of the ordinance. Those who spoke against the request for a special-use permit did not have any problems with the Stigers, but they objected to setting a precedent. The P&Z commission did not want to deny the Stigers' request, but didn't know what it could do. So they agreed unanimously to send the ordinance back to the council.

"How many times has the council sent something back to us?" commented Charles Haubold. "I think it's time we sent something back to the council."

Special-use permit OK'dIn the meantime, P&Z approved a special-use permit to the Stigers to allow them to continue to house their own dogs, to have guests with pets and to provide foster care for as many stray dogs as they can handle until the council responds.

In other matters, the commission accepted a proposal to update the ordinance governing home-based businesses, strengthening some parts of it and making other parts less restrictive.

The recommendation the council will consider allows for more home-based businesses as long as the building continues to look like a home and the residential integrity of the neighborhood is not changed. Service-related businesses would fit in, said John Mehner, a member of the city committee suggesting the changes, but any business that carries stock would not be allowed. The proposed change would allow one person who is not a family member to work there, which is currently not allowed. Deliveries and employee vehicle trips would be restricted. The amount of sewage discharged from the business should not increase.

Mehner said the committee had in mind the home-based businesses that are currently operating "underground" successfully, but not paying city sales taxes and buying business licenses. A change in the ordinance would create a more encouraging climate, and would increase city revenue.

In other action the commission:

Approved a request from First General Baptist Church for a sign on the rear of their lot at 1812 Cape La Croix Road.

Denied a request from Stephen and Veronica Langston to build a new child-care center at Mount Auburn and Old Hopper roads.

Approved a request from Rivendell Properties to develop professional retail and office space in three lots at Lexington Place and North Church Street.

Accepted some recommendations on proposed changes in the sign ordinance. The total rewritten ordinance will be considered at its next meeting.

335-6611, extension 160

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