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Larned City Council considers animal ordinance changes
Video crew will film LHS homecoming festivities next week
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Members of the Larned State Theater board of directors presented the city with a check for $5,000 at the Larned City Council meeting Tuesday. The funds will go towards repair damage from vandalism to the city’s fountain. - photo by Veronica Coons

LARNED — During the regular meeting of the Larned City Council Tuesday night, Mayor William Nusser informed the governing body that a film crew with Bajillion Agency will be in town next week to film Larned High School homecoming festivities and interviews with key Larned residents. In order to encourage the biggest turnout possible, he suggested the city could offer free hotdogs prior to the game, along with other fun activities such as a bounce house or a dunk tank. While the costs involved would be covered by the city manager’s discretionary fund, Nusser asked for the council member’s approval, which they provided. 

The city and Chamber will also spread the word to business owners so they can prepare to put their best face forward, he said. The effort is part of the city’s joint branding initiative with Pawnee County and the Larned Area Chamber of Commerce that was approved in May. 

At that meeting, Pawnee County Commissioner Bob Rein Jr. proposed a marketing partnership between the three entities to draw new people to the area. 

It was determined that videos would be part of an internet marketing campaign which will last at least a year, with each of the entities providing $500 a month in addition to the up-front production costs. 

It is expected the videos will be completed by the middle of October and the next phase of implementation will begin. 

“The timeline is short, but we are getting on this as quickly as possible,” Nusser said. 

Animal ordinance considered

Also on the agenda was whether or not to alter a city ordinance concerning how close to a dwelling certain domesticated animals may be kept. Complaints by neighbors of some residents who keep varieties of fowl and goats have caused police and Code Enforcement officer Frieda Smith to turn to the city. Vagaries in the current ordinance make it difficult to interpret and enforce, Smith said. 

Currently, City Ordinance 6.04.010 simply states any person who keeps animals (horses, cattle hogs or other) closer than 100 feet to the dwelling house of any residents of the city, regardless of distance, and allows them to essentially be a nuisance in such a way that obstructs their neighbor from reasonable and comfortable use of their property because of noise, polluted and offensive air, filth, flies or animals running at large, dead or diseased would be subject to a fine between $50 and $100. 

The ordinance was added in 1969, Smith said. Not every animal has been a problem, but she has received repeated complaints about ducks, chickens, geese and goats. 

Unless clipped, ducks are hard to contain, and will fly into neighbors’ yards. Goats, too, are known to find their way out of pens, yards, and into neighboring gardens. And then, there are the “natural” consequences of these escapes. 

Chickens have been popular in recent years, and for the most part, Smith said, owners have been good about following her guidelines. They generally keep 10 or fewer, and do not keep a rooster. Most, she said, keep them for egg laying purposes, but that doesn’t usually last long when they realize how long it takes before they produce, and they either don’t produce enough or too much. 

Still, she recommended not allowing these farm-type animals in the city at all, which would make the job of enforcement easier. 

“Basically, it’s in your court,” she said. “What do you want us to do? Leave it like it is?”

Larned City Attorney Ron Smith spoke up. He’s dealt with this issue in other towns where he acts as the city attorney, and it opens a can of worms, he said. Many types of animals can fall under the category of “other animals.” There are considerations pertaining to service or assistance animals, which Shetland ponies or miniature horses are sometimes referred as. There are other crossovers too. Hogs may not be allowed, but what about pot-bellied pigs which often live both inside and outside the home? 

“You’ve got issues about whether any of these are grandfathered or not, or are we dealing with changing everything,” he said. “I’d be glad to write the statute, but it’s going to require you to decide what your standards are, and what you want to see in an ordinance.” 

Council person Jason Murray spoke up, questioning how far the council needed to go if the incidents were isolated to only a few residents. Still, it was agreed some clarification was needed. It was agreed to table the discussion for the October study session. 

State Theater donation received

One bright note at the meeting was when Larned State Theater board members presented the city with a check for $5,000. They asked that the money be used to repair the fountain at Schnack-Lowery Park. 

City Manager Brad Eilts told the Great Bend Tribune Wednesday morning that the fountain hasn’t worked for the past few years after valves and electronic components failed due to age. It’s something the city has wanted to fix, but it was set aside while more pressing needs were addressed. 

“The State Theater group stepped up, and we were pleasantly surprised,” Eilts said. Finding parts has been an issue, Eilts said, but he’s hopeful the fountain will once again be a draw for the park.

Here’s a quick look at what happened at the Larned City Council Tuesday night:

  • Accepted a donation from Larned’s State Theater in the amount of $5,000 to be used for fountain repairs at Schnack-Lowery Park.  

  • Approved a request from Housing Opportunities, Inc., the entitiy that manages Larned’s Dream Homes housing project, for an additional $5,300 for additional maintenance costs and to pay expenses incurred from the 2017 audit and tax preparation.  

  • Approved a RFQP Performance Contracting request for qualifications. There will be no costs incurred by the city associated with this request.

  • Discussed a proposal to consider changing a city ordinance concerning allowing certain animals to be kept within 100 feet of a dwelling.  The discussion was tabled, with plans to take it up again at an upcoming October study session.  

  • Discussed financial timeline pertaining to a potential city pool project.  Council members agreed to slow down and study the issue further in order to determine a way to fund work without increasing the city’s current debt load. The discussion will continue at an upcoming October study session.  

  • Approved nominations for voting delegates who will attend the League of Kansas Municipalities Conference in Topeka Oct. 6-8.  Mayor William Nusser and City Manager Brad Eilts will attend as voting delegates. Members of the city council were asked to consider attending.

  • Mayor William Nusser informed the council that a film crew associated with the city’s branding project will be in Larned on Friday, Sept. 14 to film Larned High School homecoming festivities and interviews with select residents.  The city will promote the event and provide free hot dogs prior to the homecoming game in order to encourage more Larned residents to attend.  The council was agreeable and the cost will be covered through the City Manager's discretionary fund.

  • Heard a presentation from Code Enforcement Officer Frieda Smith concerning ADA improvements and updates on notices sent for ordinance violations.