Fireworks company gives town its money back
The next stage for Waxhaw’s controversial animal control ordinance has been set, as commissioners approved the public hearing date for Aug. 23.
Waxhaw’s commissioners had requested asked Police Chief Michael Eiss to review the current ordinance and offer recommendations for improvement, shortly after the tragic mauling death of 5-year-old Makayla Woodward Jan. 12.
“Two weeks from tonight we will have a public hearing on the animal control ordinance.” McLaurin said, “We are asking the [board] to make a decision on this [ordinance] on Sept. 13“.
At the March 22 town meeting, Chief Eiss presented his recommendations which included establishment of a Waxhaw animal control officer, animal licensing and restraint requirements, exotic and wild animal regulations and a schedule of penalties for violations.
Commissioners next heard public comments on the proposed changes to the ordinance at the April 12 meeting, where the board voted to create an ad hoc committee comprised of Chief Eiss, Judy Coates, the president of the Piedmont Kennel Club, Amy Ferguson, local dog trainer, town manager Mike McLaurin and Animal Control Officer Holly Thomas.
“The committee and I met four times, I think all of us have been pleased with the direction that it’s gone.” McLaurin said, “There’s been a lot of give-and-take from different sides.”
McLaren noted that the latest draft of the ordinance is available for citizens to review on the Waxhaw town website.
The evolution of revisions in the animal control ordinance has softened many of the objectionable restrictions from what was first offered in the March draft ordinance. For example, the regulation now permits five dogs per acre as opposed to the initial requirement allowing only two dogs per lot or parcel.
The license fees in the first draft were $40 per for non-spayed or neutered animals, the current draft sets the license fees on an annual basis by the vote of the commissioners. Other new revision from the original draft recognizes professional breeders or animal rescuers, excluding them from limitations in the number of animals allowed.
The escalating civil fines from $100 to $500 and seizure for violations of the ordinance remain unchanged. Penalties only apply to dangerous dogs, cats are excluded.
The court case for Michael Gordon, the 23-year-old Waxhaw resident, who was arrested and charged with the involuntary manslaughter death of Makayla Woodward is scheduled for Sept. 22. If convicted, Gordon could spend up to four years in prison.
During his staff report, town manager Mike McLaurin announced that East Coast Pyrotechnics, Inc., the firm that Waxhaw contracts to produce the Fourth of July fireworks event, refunded the $11,500 they were paid by the town.
Rain delays and communication issues plagued this year’s July Fourth pyrotechnics display, which in years past has always gone off without incident. The fireworks were scheduled to begin at 9:30 PM, but technical difficulties and inclement weather delayed the show for almost two and a half hours, by which time a vast majority of the audience had left to go home.
Mr. McLaurin, in a open letter to the citizens, published on the town’s Facebook page July 5, explained the technical failures and apologized for disappointing the audience.
“They’ve [East Coast Pyrotechnics] taken responsibility and we’ve learned a lot,” McLaren told commissioners. “They identified some weaknesses in their system and we’ve identified things that we can do better, one of which is using our mobile command post a little bit more effectively and working to make sure that the officers and various parking lots have the latest information.”