Westport animal ordinance is flawed
As a Wisconsin resident and stakeholder, I am writing in response to the “Westport adopts changes to animal ordinance” article published Sept. 18 in the Waunakee Tribune. Hundreds of commonly kept pet species are banned in Westport all due to a husky falsely identified as a wolf dog. How does this make sense? While it is commendable to see that the Westport board was concerned about public health and safety when creating this section of the ordinance, concerns must be expressed regarding these ordinances, which are overly restrictive and overreaching. Statistically and historically, captive reptiles, and many of the other animals listed, have not presented any sort of significant public health, safety, or environmental threat in the state of Wisconsin despite being commonly kept and sold as pets in the state for numerous decades. Nationwide, an average of 0.45 fatalities per year (see attached documents) can be attributed to captive constrictor snakes, for example. This is while many more common and routine objects and scenarios claim significantly more lives each year, including 13 due to vending machines, 77 due to hot dogs, and 450 due to falls from beds or stairs.
Any ordinance that develops should be based on real statistical data and sound best management practices rather than knee jerk reactions to perceived problems. Just because other municipalities have similar ordinances does not make this a good idea. Creating overly broad and restrictive ordinances only creates problems where they have not previously existed, and penalizes hundreds of responsible, conscientious citizens and small businesses throughout the Madison Area, Dane County and the state of Wisconsin. Outlawing potentially hundreds of species of commonly kept species that are included under this ordinance makes no sense. MAHS, as well as many other local, state, and national organizations involved in the pet, rescue, and herpetological community can offer assistance in the creation of an improved ordinance in this area that is fair and reasonable with the input of stakeholders while ensuring public health and safety, the protection of the environment, and animal welfare.
Thank you, and have a good day.
A matter of perspective
Dr. Ranum asked the village to consider surrounding districts when the maximum height for C1-D was increased. Thank you, Dr. Ranum. The Village has decided to use “setbacks” or the distance from the street to the building front (perspective) to address height differences.
An Aug. 3 memo asks the village to clarify if the maximum height is 45 feet or 55. The question remains outstanding. Clarifying if the cap is 10 or 20 feet taller than the residential limit of 35 feet is important.
Item two is the big change. The new ordinance applies when lots abut or touch a public right of way that touches more restrictive districts. It initially places a hard limit of 35 feet on the lot. We are achieving the aim here. Well done.
However, we immediately undermine the restriction. We have except in the language. No restrictions are placed on except, which leaves us with the potential reading that in every instance where a property owner allows for an additional foot of setback they may have an additional foot of height.
Several questions. Does it apply to all setbacks required by the more restrictive district or just the street yard? Is the street yard the 60 foot minimum required in item 1? Or is it applied only to the minimum setback in the more restrictive district? We need clearer language.
Does the setback meet the requirement for the conditional and ancillary uses at 55 feet? If so, I hope the Village Trustees consider the holistic implications of this language.
The Oct. 8 planning commission package discusses maintaining a walkable downtown. A 60-foot (or more) setback on properties in and surrounding C1-D contradicts many of the example ordinances provided in the packet. At minimum, we are minimizing the ability to place parking in the rear of buildings reducing the visual impact of large parking lots from arterial streets.
Waunakee has an undeniable track record of success – Village Crossing, Cottages on Main, Cannery Row. These buildings achieve the intent of this ordinance through stepped roof lines. Therefore, I prefer language requiring lots abutting more restrictive districts to have a stepped roof line. The step could equal the percentage of lot abutting the more restrictive district with the lower step no taller than 35 feet.
Justice and fairness
After watching the Senate elevate Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court confirmation, I was very sad to hear our Senator Tammy Baldwin’s name being the first no vote against him. I was really hoping that our senator would actually look at Brett Kavanaugh’s current history, instead of judging him on allegations that supposedly happened 35 years ago.
Whatever happened to due-process of law? There is no evidence to support the claims. Brett Kavanaugh and his family have been going through hell. Judge Kavanaugh was very emotional when he had to respond to all the accusations. Who wouldn’t be? His whole life was being destroyed. He has been a judge for 12 years. He has been very involved in his daughter’s athletic sports, and now it was crumbling with no proof.
Do we really want a senator to represent us that will not follow facts but follows party rule and mob hysteria? If you pay attention, most of the protest scream the same rehearsed slogans and carry all the same pre-made signs, which in a lot of cases are financed by the great American hater, George Soros.
Here’s a message for Sen. Baldwin. Most of your voters consider what is fair and follow the law. We do not believe in destroying a family with unproven accusations. This country could be in real trouble if we go down this road.
So, it’s time to consider who and how you vote in November. How about actually voting as an American, not just a certain party member?
Separate votes needed on zoning changes
Next Monday, Oct. 15, at 6 p.m., the Village Board will have a public hearing to discuss several ordinance changes. First of all, it would be helpful to hold a separate public hearing and board vote for each change. That way, if officials have varying opinions on each change, it would reduce confusion for the public as to what was approved or denied. In addition, I would like to see the addition of a stepped roofline requirement. Stepped rooflines like the one at Cannery Row reduce height differences, provide a better transition into surrounding neighborhoods, and make large buildings seem smaller than their actual size and height. My final concern is that I would like the proposed ordinance revisions to be in plain language that is no higher than 8th grade reading level. Many concerns have been expressed in this column and in other places. Numerous interpretations can be made from reading the complex proposed changes, but much of what I’ve heard said in meetings seems different than what I and others have interpreted from reading the documents. From what I see, the changes open the door for more developers who want to build tall buildings in our town. I urge every citizen to take a look at the online agenda packet, attend this meeting, or submit your thoughts and/or concerns via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Waunakee High School Student