Tisbury voters gnaw on leash law
With little debate, Tisbury voters approved a road layout for a new connector road between State Road and the Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road and agreed to establish the town water department as an enterprise department at Tuesday's special town meeting.
But, when it came to amending the town's leash law, voters' hackles rose.
Still, voters approved all 15 non-appropriating warrant articles in the 90-minute meeting held in the Tisbury School gymnasium. Many voters apparently forgot that last year they had approved a 7 pm start-up time for this year's meeting. Although still 11 short of a 100-voter quorum by 7:20 pm, town meeting moderator Deborah Medders managed to kick off the meeting at precisely 7:30 pm - the customary start time - with 103 voters at hand. The final count was 117.
In keeping with Tisbury's traditional lottery system, Ms. Medders drew article numbers from a white ceramic pitcher to choose their order.
It took the meeting about a half-hour to gnaw on changes proposed by Animal Control Officer Laurie Clements to the town's leash law. Due to an error in the warrant, the leash law bylaw printed in Article 15 contained an older version of the bylaw, instead of the amended version Ms. Clements submitted.
The original bylaw required that dogs be restrained on a leash when not restricted to the owner's or keeper's property. Owners of dogs caught off-leash would receive a warning for a first offense, a $25 fine for the second, a $30 fine for the third, and a $50 fine for the fourth and subsequent offenses.
Ms. Clements proposed amending the bylaw to eliminate a warning and impose a $25 fine for the first offense, and a $50 fine for all subsequent offenses.
"I'm trying to get rid of some of the chronic offenders," she explained.
Peter Goodale, a member of Tisbury's finance and advisory committee (FinCom), said he thought a warning for a first offense should remain in the bylaw. He proposed in a written amendment that offenders receive a warning for the first offense and be fined $50 for any subsequent offenses. His motion carried, 56-40, in a standing vote.
"What I wanted was $25 for a first offense and $50 for subsequent offenses," Ms. Clements protested. "I think the amendment is too harsh."
At that point, many voters were totally confused. Selectman Tristan Israel brought the discussion to heel by offering another amendment, which including a warning for the first offense, a $25 fine for the second, and a $50 fine for subsequent offenses. The motion carried, with only a few feeble nays heard.
The other article generating the debate asked voters to approve union negotiations between the town and Local #3992 of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, AFL-CIO, to establish an apprenticeship program for the Department of Public Works (DPW).