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December 25. 2013 11:08PM

Military leave, dog fouling among ordinance changes

MANCHESTER — A ban on parking recreational vehicles overnight on residential streets, steeper towing fees and tougher enforcement of "dog fouling" rules: these were some of the new city ordinances that made their way onto the books in 2013.

In all, the Board of Mayor and Aldermen made eight additions and revisions the city's Code of Ordinances during the year.

Several of ordinances were mundane and were passed with little debate, such as disallowing those with residential parking permits to park on Elm Street downtown, or one that transferred "the duties of the Millyard Design Review Committee to the Heritage Commission."

Other ordinance changes were more significant. In May, the aldermen voted to increase the number of paid military leave days for city employees from 10 to 20. Alderman-At-Large Dan O'Neil pushed for the change because employees who are also in the military reserves, particularly police officers and firefighters, have faced increased responsibilities related to the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Several changes were made to the ordinances concerning streets and parking. The ban on recreational vehicle overnight parking extends the restriction against commercial vehicles and trailers to include those that "permit occupancy thereof as sleeping quarters for one or more persons."

In April, the aldermen voted to hike the towing fees companies are allowed to charge for removing illegally parked vehicles to $110, a 57 percent increase from the previous charge of $70. The police chief backed the fee hike, saying it would bring the charges in line with those of surrounding communities.

The aldermen gave final approval to the "dog fouling" ordinance at their last meeting of the year earlier this month. It amends the current ordinance by removing a section that made it enforceable only if the act of not picking up after a dog was witnessed by a police officer.

The ordinance requires a dog owner, when walking their pet in public, to both carry a means to pick up its waste — a plastic bag or tool — and to do so when the deed is done.

The aldermen came close to passing another canine-related ordinance, which would place greater restrictions on dogs, including muzzling, that are deemed by a court to be "vicious." The ordinance cleared several committees, but after late modifications, it didn't make it onto the agenda of the last meeting. It will pass to the new board of aldermen, which will be sworn in Jan. 7. tsiefer@unionleader.com


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