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Council to consider exotic animal ban, handicap ramps


By Seth Thomas Gulledge
The Daily Reflector

Monday, September 11, 2017

The Greenville City Council is scheduled to consider a ban on exotic animals at its first meeting for September tonight at City Hall.

The discussion is prompted by concerns raised during the public comment period at the May 8 council meeting when resident Karen Warren complained about a roadside exhibition outside Greenville Mall.

A business was selling tickets to pet or take photographs with animals, including kangaroos, tigers and even an elephant. Warren said she did not know what the attraction was when she first encountered it.

“I had my two grandchildren with me, ages 2 and 7, because I understood there were pony rides, so I took them to this unknowing there were caged exotic animals who looked like they were in despair,” Warren said.

She took photographs of the animals in their cages, which she presented to council at the meeting, and said that she contacted animal services for an explanation of the attraction.

“I stopped at Animal Control and my first question was, ‘Is this legal,’” said Warren. “They said that yes it had been approved, and that’s my concern for you. I don’t think that Greenville should be approving exotic animals being mistreated in cages and that’s how we’re representing ourselves to our children and grandchildren.”

The council will consider banning certain uses of exotic animals within city limits, according to City Attorney Dave Holec. Whether the ban will limit private ownership of exotic animals or just the commercial use of them has not been determined. The Council may also decide to not institute any ban.

Crafting any motion will require a lot of input from staff and council members, Holec said. They can consider similar ordinances from Charlotte and Asheville. Both Charlotte and Asheville ban the commercial use of exotic animals within city limits, with exceptions made for accredited zoos or aquariums.

The council also is set to consider upgrades to handicap ramps at intersections throughout the city. The city was contacted by the North Carolina Department of Transportation that funding was available to update existing ramps to existing American with Disabilities (ADA) standards, but requested the city to assist with the project by locating ramps in need of an upgrade and paying a 20 percent share.

Staff developed a list of about 150 intersections that included 500 ramps, but narrowed the list to about 335 ramps. The ramps are located mostly downtown and adjacent areas to the east and west. Some of the suggested ramps are on East Howell Street.

The total cost of the project is estimated at $930,000, and Greenville’s share would be $186,000. The city staff recommends that the council approve the item.

The board will meet beginning at 6 p.m. in City Hall Council Chambers, 200 W. Fifth St. The meeting’s agenda also includes a public comment period and several other business items.

Contact Seth Gulledge at sgulledge@reflector.com and 329-9579