Borough not allowed to enact dog law

JOYCE F. NOWELL

Efforts by a group to get an anti-tethering law enacted in the Borough of Greencastle hit a road block Monday night.

Borough Solicitor Sam Wiser told the council that the Pennsylvania Borough Code doesn’t provide Greencastle the ability to pass laws concerning the care and maintenance of dogs.

“That would be beyond the power set by the legislature,” Wiser said during the council’s regular meeting.

Last month the group asked for the borough to consider an ordinance setting guidelines for the care and maintenance of dogs. They referenced a law that had been passed by the city of Hazleton.

Wiser explained Monday that Hazleton is different since it is a city and has different empowerment from the legislature as a city.

Ilse-Marie Bramson of Leitersburg Street, who has asked council many times for relief of a specific dog and last month asked that a law be passed, responded by passing out copies of the Pennsylvania dog law to council members and asked, “Shouldn’t you enforce the Pennsylvania law?”

Wiser responded, “We do.”

Bramson retorted, “I’m quite certain you don’t.”

Bramson was accompanied to the meeting by people from Adams County who are working on getting an anti-tethering law there. They said they were advised that they could seek such ordinances in each individual borough and township in Adams County.

Wiser reiterated that the state borough code would not allow Greencastle to enact such an ordinance.

“We don’t want to create an ordinance that we can’t enforce,” said Council President Charles Eckstine, “and then it will cost the taxpayers money to defend it.”

Bramson asked that the borough enforce the state dog law.

Borough officials noted that there is a dog warden in Franklin County and each of the three animal shelters in Franklin County has a police officer on staff to enforce the state’s cruelty laws. Wiser said that those officers have specialized and on-going training to enforce the state law. He advised that the enforcement of the state dog law is “best left to the state.”

Eckstine agreed to have the borough’s Public Safety Committee research what powers the local police have and report back at the June meeting.

Other business

Councilmember Paul Schemel reported that the Public Safety Committee met with representatives for the Jerome R. King Playground about a recent upturn in vandalism at the facility. Schemel said police patrols have been increased in the area and the two groups will meet again next month to assess its effectiveness.

The council decided to apply for financial assistance under the disaster relief and emergency assistance act to recoup the costs related to the snow storms this past winter.

The council contracted with Allegheny Energy Supply for a year of street lighting. Officials estimate that the plan will save $5,700. 

Borough officials learned that because of liability issues Allegheny Power would not allow placement of hanging flower baskets on its poles in the downtown area. The placement had been suggested by the borough’s Beautification Committee. Committee member Lori Facchina said banners would be allowed and the group is moving forward on that. She added that the group may pursue placing flower planters around the square.

The committee is also considering a proposal to refurbish the mural on the railroad underpass along West Baltimore Street and sponsoring a Greencastle cleanup day.