FLINT TWP. — Two ordinance amendments recently approved by the township board of trustees lessened restrictions on the books.
Reporting requirements for owners of vicious dogs was repealed from one ordinance. Penalties for violations of the site plan ordinance was reduced from a misdemeanor. to a civil infraction in another ordinance.
The township attorney recommended the change to the site plan code violation to make it easier to win cases in court, said Tracy Tucker, building director.
“When we go into court we are much more likely to be received well by the judge trying to get a court order for a civil infraction then to go after somebody criminally for deviating from their site plan,” Tucker said.
She explained the process in which the township Planning Commission approve a site plan. If the owner deviates from that plan, a violation notice is issued and the matter could end up in court. There is a lower legal threshold to meet for a civil infraction instead of going after someone for a misdemeanor, which is a criminal penalty, she said.
The amendment also brings the site plan violation penalty in line with other code enforcement laws on the books, she said.
A few residents spoke during a public hearing. Linda Nierman, a resident, said she would rather see the site plan and all code enforcement laws made tougher and fines made higher.
“I think we need stronger site plan enforcement in this township,” she said.
She said she reads the Planning Commission minutes and assumes that those plans will be followed but there are instances in the township when that was not done.
Trustee Tom Klee responded to Nierman that he agreed with her that the code enforcement needs to be stronger but said he would vote in favor of the ordinance change because it will make it easier to go after violators in court.
The repeal of a vicious dog ordinance removed language dealing with reporting requirements. Tucker said it is being removed on the advice of the township attorney because it is outdated.
That section covered the definition of a vicious dog as one that has previously attacked or bitten a human being or other domestic animal. It included reporting requirements that vicious dog owners provide the township with proof of liability insurance, provide to the township clerk two color photographs of the animal, promptly report incidents involving the dog including attacks, giving birth or being stolen.
Trustee Barb Vert asked if the ordinance would be revisited at some point. No information was given about why the ordinance was considered outdated or what rules now apply to owners of vicious dogs.
Miller said repealing the outdated language was the first step. If anything needs to be added back to the ordinance it would be brought back to the board through normal ordnance amendment procedure. The board voted unanimously to make the change.