Donora animal ordinance delayed
Chickens in Donora will live to see another day, because council Thursday tabled an updated animal control ordinance that would prohibit residents from keeping those birds, pigs and other types of animals in the borough.
If passed, the ordinance also would have prohibited pet owners from walking animals in the central business district – bordered by Meldon and Thompson avenues on the east and west and Fifth and Eighth streets on the north and south.
Council President Dr. Karen Polkabla and Councilwoman Marie Trozzo said the ordinance was not written the way they wanted it.
“We weren't real happy with the way it turned out,” Trozzo told resident Jim Cochran during the public comment period.
“We decided as a council that we would send it back to committee and look at a couple things and clean it up a little bit before we vote on it.”
Cochran, who said he owns seven chickens, opposed the proposal.
“The last time I checked, we all live in America. Don't take away my rights as a property owner to do what I please on property that I own. I take care of my animals, I make sure they are properly kept and clean up after them,” Cochran said.
“I don't have a rooster that goes ‘cock-a-doodle-doo' all hours of the day. My chickens have a 7 foot by 14 foot enclosed area and a 4 foot by 8 foot heated coop. They're not out there roaming free.”
Councilman Don Pavelko told Cochran that while the chickens are well kept, council has received many complaints about free-roaming chickens, especially in the 10th Street area.
Polkabla said after the meeting that the central business district is a concern.
“We have residents that live within those borders that own dogs, so we're going to try and come up with some other ideas,” Polkabla said.
Councilman Tom Kostolansky said he hopes the newly-written ordinance keeps the area free of dog-walkers.
“Business owners have the right that they shouldn't have to have piles of dog crap on their sidewalks,” said Kostolansky, an attorney with a office on McKean Avenue.
“I understand that people in those areas have pets, and there's only one reason they're walking those pets ... to do what nature intended.”
Kostolansky said the central business district should stay as a nonwalking zone, noting that other council members don't share his opinion.
He later criticized the police department and asked that a copy of the animal control ordinance be posted in the police station.
“I want it posted just so police officers are aware that this is something they need to enforce,” Kostolansky said.
“Something has to be done. It is to be enforced by police officers, so our officers need to start asking people they see walking dogs if they have the proper stuff to allow them to properly clean up after (animals).
“I've never seen a police officer stop a dog-walker. What do we have a police department for, mayor? We pay the police department to enforce the borough's ordinances.”
Mayor John Lignelli said residents should be a part of the solution.
“I'm very active. If I see something going on, I'll take a part of it,” Lignelli told Kostolansky. “I've seen it happening, so I've talked to the right people to have the citations issued. And I've gone to the magistrate, because I'm the one who saw it.”
Lignelli said the police need help.
“Let's not point fingers. If you see something and you can do something about it, do it,” he said. “I'm not a politician, I'm a public servant.”
Pavelko said he is hopeful the ordinance, in the works for months, will be ready for a vote next month.
Council voted to hire three part-time police officers.
Kostolansky asked why he and council have never met the new officers.
“I remember specifically, within the past few months, asking Superintendent (James) Brice to have officers that he was going to hire come to a council meeting to meet residents and introduce themselves to council,” Kostolansky said.
“And, he hasn't done that. These people are coming in here and are going to be paid with taxpayer money. We're the ones hiring them, and we don't know who they are. And they don't know who we are.”
Pavelko backed Kostolansky.
“I, like Mr. Kostolansky, am going to vote to hire them, but I agree with everything he just said,” Pavelko said.
Lignelli said that when it comes to the next police agreement, the borough needs to pay part-time officers more.
“We hire them right out of the academy. They come here and get trained, then they leave and go to other municipalities that can pay them more,” Lignelli said. “We have to do something so that we can compete and keep these part-time officers here.”
Council hired Robert French Martin III and Dustin Michael Fidazzo, both of Washington, Pa., and Danielle L. Adrian of Venetia.
In other business, council:
• Allocated $2,500 to establish a community garden at the north end of Donner Park on Meldon Avenue.
• Hired Derrean Davis of 103 Highland Terrace as a temporary, part-time office secretary at the rate of $10 per hour.
• Approved distributions of money from the fire loss escrow account in the amount of $7,271.48 to the owners of 1287 Marelda Ave. and $15,465.10 to the owner of 1375 Fayette Ave., as recommended by the code enforcement office.
• Announced it is accepting applications for part-time police officers.
Jeremy Sellew is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 724-684-2667.