Council asked to further tweak animal control ordinance

The Bloomfield City Council voted Thursday night to reopen the city’s tree dump on a trial basis for two weeks.

The gate to the tree dump located south of Lake Fisher was opened to the public Friday morning, Oct. 8, with the understanding that only trees, grass, and other vegetation grown on residents’ properties could be deposited at the site. The public must NOT set fire to the discarded vegetation.

Councilman Don Walton made the motion to reopen the dump under the previous guidelines for use. Councilman Jake Bohi amended the motion to charge any violators with a municipal infraction. The council approved the motion and amendment and will reconsider the issue at the Oct. 21 council meeting.

If regulations are followed, the opening of the tree dump will be extended.

Jennifer Wilson, a resident of Bloomfield for 1.5 years and an employee of Indian Hills Community College, took the opportunity during public comment time to inform the council and guests of the need to pass the upcoming bond referendum for Indian Hills Community College.

Wilson said IHCC has several projects that need to be undertaken to improve facilities and instruction at the college.

“The temporary academic buildings on the Centerville Campus have been in use since 1971 and are not adequate for the enrollment the campus now has,” she stated. “Our programs have grown enormously. A lot of industries want industrial maintenance workers. Ninety-six students wanted to enroll in that program, but the classroom in the temporary building only holds 16.”

Wilson said new classrooms are needed not only for industrial maintenance but for CDL training and classes in ag, nursing, and manufacturing.

“Eighty-six percent of our students remain in the area,” she said. “They are your (future) workforce.”

Wilson said another project that will be undertaken when the bond issue passes is the renovation of a large building on Ottumwa’s north campus. That building will provide space for 60-70 students in the Criminal Justice program as they go through simulation training. IHCC also would use the facility for on-going training for officers and reserve officers around the state. (See the interview with Josh O’Dell in last week’s Bloomfield Democrat explaining the need for improved criminal justice facilities.)

A third project financed by the bond referendum would be the updating of the fine arts area.

Another important project financed by the bond referendum would be creating and/or updating virtual classrooms for use by high school students involved in concurrent enrollment. Concurrent enrollment offerings allow high school students to take IHCC courses for college credit at no cost to their families.

“Our concurrent enrollment plan has saved $5.3 million dollars for families in the area,” Wilson said. “We want to grow this enrollment. Those students stay here and provide our workforce. If they leave, they won’t come back.:”

Wilson concluded her comments by informing the council the project is a $36 million project. IHCC has worked with local companies and obtained grants that will provide $8 million. The college is asking taxpayers for $28 million.

“It is important to have a variety of folks go out and show support,” she said. “We are not asking for a lot when this is broken down over a 10-county area.”

Mike Payne of Bloomfield also took the opportunity to speak during public comments regarding the new ordinance on rental properties and inspections. “Why do rental properties have to be registered every year,” he asked. “The fees will likely have to be passed on to the tenants. I have three rental properties and you can come and inspect them tomorrow if you wish.”

Several visitors to the council meeting spoke up during the public hearing on the new proposed animal control ordinance.

Hawk Morgan of Bloomfield said he is a dog fancier and shows dogs for sport. “I take exceptional care of our dogs and try to breed better dogs,” he said. “Dog fanciers usually have between five and thirty dogs. How does this affect us when the ordinance allows only six dogs?

“We chose to live in Bloomfield because there were no dog ordinances.”

Other topics coming up during the dog discussion dealt with emotional support animals and lessening fees.

“I’m in favor of trying to lessen the cost for an owner whose dog doesn’t behave properly,” Walton said.

Bohi said if a dog gets out and has a tag, it will be taken back to its owner and no fee will be assessed.

Mayor Dan Wiegand said, “All we’re trying to do is eliminate vicious dogs.”

Walton encouraged visitors who had concerns about the ordinance to contact Bohi and allow the committee to “iron this out.”

The council approved the first reading of the animal control ordinance with the stipulation that the ordinance will be “tweaked” before the second and third readings.

During staff updates, Bloomfield Fire Chief Jeff McClure reported his department will be working with students in the Davis County Schools on fire prevention and doing fire extinguisher training.

In his role as code enforcement officer, McClure said two property owners have been cited and others are working frantically to clean up their properties.

During a discussion of the parking ordinance, the council decided to allow nighttime parking only in the middle of the square and remove the “no parking from 12 a.m. to 5 p.m.” signs one block off the square.

The council also eliminated all parking on Locust Street from 5 a.m. to 6 p.m. between Columbia and Davis Streets, and took away all street parking in the Industrial Park.

City Administrator Tomi Jo Day and Attorney Gayla Harrison were assigned to research whether the city or the county is responsible for replacing a washed-out culvert on South Columbia Street. Bruce Piper brought the issue to the council’s attention and asked if the city had a plan to repair the road.

During the city administrator’s report, Day asked the council how to proceed with getting property owners to register their rental properties. Currently there are less than 10 registered and Day said there are at least 58 rental properties.

The council suggested extending the registration deadline to Dec. 1, notifying realtors and publishing information on registration deadlines.

In other action, the council:

• decided to readvertise for tree trimming bids after completing work on a contract form template;

• approved Shane Poe Construction to grid water mains at Country Club Estates;

• approved an Oct. 21 public hearing on an urban renewal amendment;

• approved an Oct. 21 public hearing to discuss a CDBG-CV grant application;

• approved appointing Kerry Riley to the Historic Preservation Commission;

• heard a report from Diana Upton-Hill on virtual sessions attended by members of Bloomfield’s Historic Preservation Commission;

• gave approval for French-Reneker Associates to proceed with engineering and design of the new IOOF Cemetery Road;

• approved payment of $247,390.50 to LL Pelling Co. for sealcoating streets;

• approved Drink Moore Coffee’s truck to vend in front of U.S. Cellular for a Customer Appreciation Day;

• briefly discussed the possible annexation of Lake Fisher Park;

• approved the purchase of diesel fuel up to $13,000 for running the generators in the electrical plant during the winter months if needed;

• gave Don Walton permission to further explore the costs and possibilities of replacing the city’s sign on the southwest corner of Bloomfield along Highway 2.