Archived Story

Township passes first reading of animal ordinance

Published 10:58pm Monday, September 19, 2011

The Niles Township Board Monday finally passed a first reading of a proposed dangerous animal ordinance that has been a topic of debate for the past month.
The ordinance would allow the township to have animals deemed dangerous to be removed from the township. Berrien County already has a dangerous animal ordinance on the books, but supporters of the ordinance say the local ordinance would add “more teeth” to it.
The board passed the first reading by a 6-1 vote with Township Treasurer Jim Ringler casting the “no” vote. The board will vote on whether to adopt the ordinance at a future meeting.
Township Supervisor Jim Kidwell, who has spearheaded the effort to pass the ordinance, brought up a recent pit bull attack in Buchanan. Three Buchanan residents were seriously injured in two separate attacks by the dogs earlier this month.

Kidwell brought in photos of the injuries caused by the animals to show to the board members.
“I’m pretty disturbed by it,” he said.
Kidwell also said that the two pit bulls, which have been put down since the attacks, were the same animals involved in attacks last year in Niles Township. At that time, Kidwell brought forth a similar ordinance to the board only to have it tabled two times by other board members.
“If we had passed (the ordinance), these attacks wouldn’t have happened,” Kidwell said. “Call it fate, coincidence or whatever you want to.”
Under the proposed ordinance, if a law enforcement officer or resident submits a written complaint to the township, the complaint will be investigated by the code enforcement officer or a law enforcement officer.
If the animal is deemed dangerous, the township supervisor will write a notice to the owner of the animal to have him or her remove the animal from the township. If the owner wants to appeal, he or she will go before a five-member animal control appeal committee. If the committee confirms that the animal is dangerous, the owner will have 72 hours to remove the animal.
Buchanan Mayor Carla Cole was in attendance and requested a copy of the proposed ordinance to give to the city attorney. Buchanan is considering adopting a similar dangerous animal ordinance after the recent pit bull attacks in the city. The City of Niles already has a dangerous animal ordinance in its code.

Still no report on treasurer investigation

During public comment Monday, Niles Township resident Shane Daniel asked the board if the township has received the summary report for the investigation of Township Treasurer Jim. Ringler.
An investigation was done in March after township zoning administrator Stephanie Woodrick submitted a complaint that Ringler had allegedly intimidated her into making illegal zoning changes that would have benefited him as a Realtor.
The investigation revealed Ringler hadn’t violated any township policy, but the township has not received a written summary report of the findings.
“How can we exonerate Mr. Ringler without a report?” Daniel asked the board, demanding one of the officials to get the report.
Kidwell said the township hasn’t paid the bill to the firm that conducted the investigation and won’t until it receives the report.

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