EDITOR'S NOTE: This story has been corrected to note the mayor met with a citizen, not the dog owner who is the source of complaints.
ADVANCE, Mo. -- An ordinance passed last week by the Advance Board of Aldermen that limited dog ownership within the city has been tabled, according to Mayor Carl Ritter.
Ritter said that after meeting with some members of the board Tuesday morning, the decision was made to table the measure the board approved unanimously at its last regular meeting. The measure stated that no one could own more than two dogs in one household, lawn or enclosure. Aldermen also voted not to allow a "grandfather" rule, which would allow an exemption for households that already own three or more dogs.
Ritter said he and the board passed the measure as a solution to numerous complaints about dogs barking during the night and trespassing on neighboring properties.
"We decided to ... [table] it this morning until we can get a committee together to decide what needs to be done about the problem," Ritter said. "We're not against dogs; we want to work with the community and solve this problem."
The dog-limiting ordinance was passed because the city's nuisance laws already on the books seemed ineffectual in resolving an ongoing issue -- that one particular dog owner's large number of animals was causing neighbors to complain. After meeting with a citizen Tuesday morning, Ritter said, he and several aldermen decided to suspend the ordinance. Ritter said the meeting wasn't a formal board meeting, so an agenda wasn't posted.
"It wasn't a special board meeting or anything like that," Ritter said. Aldermen simply had a meeting with the woman at the center of the canine complaints and decided to "table" the ordinance, he said.
Missouri Sunshine Law, which governs what meetings and records of public bodies should be open, requires boards of aldermen to post notice at least 24 hours in advance of a meeting of that body. The law extends to meetings by conference call or other electronic means.
It wasn't clear Tuesday whether that morning's meeting would fall under the Sunshine Law statute.
Ritter said a committee is being formed to find another solution to the city's canine problem. The goal of the committee, which will consist of community members and not board members, is to find a more "positive" solution, the mayor said.
"We know there are plenty of people out there that do take good care of their dogs," Ritter said. "Our final solution might not make everyone happy, I know that, but we're trying to solve this problem the best way we know how."
Ritter said he encourages anyone interested in the issue to attend the next board meeting April 15. The city is happy to hear from citizens, he said, and listen to their concerns.
"We're up for suggestions," he said. "In this small town, we work as a community."
Ritter said he does not expect any action to be taken at the meeting, but hopes to begin making some progress to finding a solution.
Several aldermen and city attorney Don Rhodes were contacted via phone but declined to comment on the issue.
Managing editor Matt Sanders contributed to this report.