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Somerset Village Board revises pit bull ordinance

A packed room applauded Village of Somerset trustees as they voted 3-1 Thursday night to revise the village's ordinance dealing with wild, exotic and dangerous animals. Trustees dropped Section 7-1-9 which refers specifically to "pit bulls."

Back in July, trustees heard from resident and pit bull owner Shannon Luloff, and professional pit bull advocate Beth DeLaforest while making a case in favor of changing the ordinance which has been in place since 2000.

Based on a recommendation from the Public Safety Committee, trustees approved dropping Section 7-1-9 and allowing Section 7-1-6, which addresses dangerous and aggressive behavior in non-breed specific terms, to accommodate pit bull behavior as well.

"In Section 7-1-6 you have restrictions on dogs that may attack a person. So in the event there is the first free bite, then additional action can be taken but, it is not the strict prohibition on a specific breed of dog, it is more action specific regardless of the dog. So the Village still has the means to address a dog that bites regardless of breed," explained Village Attorney Anders Helquist.

ATVs

Inspired in part by recent legislation by the Wisconsin State Senate extending municipal jurisdiction over local roadways, Somerset ATV and UTV enthusiasts proposed revisions to the existing route through the Village. The plan is not yet a year old.

"Plan A keeps it (the route) out of many of the residential areas. Since the State Senate ended up passing (legislation) we have the authority to do some jurisdictional stuff with the route through state highways. That was the plan that we (Public Safety Committee) adopted, to go through the stop lights at Main Street, up to Depot Road, to Cloutier Drive, then down to Sunrise Drive and south of town on County Road I," explained Village President John Melvin.

Trustee Bartt Palmer renewed his request for a public hearing to allow residents along the proposed route to voice their opinion prior to adoption of Plan A. He also noted that the police chief and public works director both had reservations regarding the proposed route.

"I've also talked to the Police Chief and Public Works Director who are not comfortable with the routes. I just feel we really haven't had enough discussion to think this completely through. I'd really like to have a public hearing. The route we previously approved coming from the north, we were going to give that a one year trial too. That hasn't been a year yet. It was my understanding that we would approve that route to see how things would go for a year before approving other routes. The first route we approved, there wasn't hardly any residential, just a short path on Parent Street. But this new route goes through quite a bit of residential," said Palmer.

Over Palmer's objections, trustees voted 3-1 to approve the revised route.

Other business

• Trustees approved the final pay request for the test well construction for Well #5 for $3,070.40 to Municipal Well & Pump

• Trustees also approved a contract with MSA for the design, bidding and construction services for the well house for Well #5 for $121,310.

• Trustees approved OPG's bid of $6,523.18 to convert the remaining collection of old village documents to digital access.

• Trustees approved Melvin's appointment of Ron Hill to fill the vacant board seat.

• Fire department representative Travis Belisle explained the department's switching of pension plans from one run by the department to one run by the state. The primary advantages of the new plan are the state will provide a matching contribution up to $390 per member per year and contributions are not capped or limited. The other difference is the new plan will be owned by the Village rather than the department itself. Department members will make their contributions to the Village and the Village will make an annual payment to the State on behalf of the department.

• Trustees approved a proclamation in support of the Public Library Expansion Project.

• Trustees approved 2018 Special Fund Budgets for Sewer of $1,380,600, Water of $1,111,785 and TIF of $677,093.13.

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