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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

City Council takes steps on ordinance

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Brad Deal
The Common Council of the City of Brazil met in a work session Wednesday night to gather more information to amend the current animal ordinance.

While the intent of the meeting was to determine what needs to be changed or added to the ordinance, the focus quickly turned to a disagreement between neighbors.

Brazil resident Larry Witty claimed there is an issue with fowl smells and "sludgy" runoff coming from his neighbor's property into his backyard.

"They have a bunch of animals that are fed and defecate near a barn close to our fence," Witty said while providing the council photos he took of the area. "During this winter, whenever it has rained or snow was melting, the urine and feces gets into the runoff and comes into our yard."

Witty added he also had issues with chickens and peacocks flying into his yard.

Trey Adams, Witty's neighbor, confirmed the barn was near the fence, but claimed the waterway has been that quality ever since he and his family moved onto the property approximately 12 years ago.

"The animals do eat right up by the barn, and I will gladly change the location if it is needed," he said. "Right now, I am waiting for the weather to clear up so I can clean up the area, and possibly move the barn."

Adams, who has approximately 10 acres of land and was annexed into the city limits in late 2009, added he is aware of the chickens and peacocks crossing over the fence and said if it continues to be a problem, he will get rid of the peacocks.

However, Witty claimed the runoff was creating a potential health hazard to which the council and a member of the audience suggested contacting the health department to run tests.

"He is entitled to his own opinion," Adams said. "But in this situation, I disagree with his claims."

Meanwhile, the council heard a request to set a date in which the current ordinance will be enforced.

"I'm aware we're not going to solve all the problems tonight, but I just feel we need to set a date in which we hold violators accountable," Brazil resident Bell Killion said.

She told the council about her situation where her neighbor owns a horse on a typical city lot without providing adequate shelter as the horse does not fit completely within the makeshift shelter that had been up until the ice storm hit.

"We need to make them clean it up, be responsible and make things acceptable for their neighbors who deserve to live a quality life as well," Killion told the council.

Another resident inquired about if a maximum amount was set on the number of chickens one could own.

Council member Brad Deal said he was looking at setting the number at 10, with only one of which could be a rooster.

Brazil City Fire Chief Jim Smith said the number may need to be 25 as many feed stores are offering that amount of chickens with the purchase of feed.

"Most places, you can't purchase less than 25 hatchlings at one time, regardless of breed," Smith said. "However, the ones the feed stores are offering are considered high-breed and are meant to be butchered within 6-10 weeks.

In response to questions about the potential fines, Deal said he would like to see some sort of graduated scale.

"Most people will learn their lesson after the first fine, but you have others who have no problem repeating their behavior if the fines don't really hit them too much," he said. "In my mind, we should set it at $50 for the first offense, $100 on the second, and on the third and subsequent offenses, fine them $500, which I think would make the message sink in."

Brazil resident Jasen Gibbens told the council in order to adequately enforce the ordinance, the city would need an officer specifically for that duty, but the funding for the position is not available. He added the council should also consider the effects on "grandfathering" properties should the city continue annexation.

Council member Steve Lamb said he would like to find out a clear grandfather definition when it comes to animals.

"I have seen instances where the clause lasts until the animal dies, and others that specify it is dropped when the property is torn down," Lamb said. "I just want to find the actual definition in this case because we can set it stronger than state law, we just can't go less."

Mayor Ann Bradshaw said she and the council will take the information gathered from Wednesday's and previous meetings about the animal ordinance to the city attorney to start drafting an updated version.

"We need to start getting something set because I don't want this to continue going on and on," Bradshaw said. "While we can not approve anything tonight with this being a work session, hopefully we can have something to be presented for potential passage at the April or May council meeting."

The next regular meeting of the Common Council of the City of Brazil is 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 9, in the Council Chambers at City Hall.

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Farm animals should only be on farms, outside the city limits. This would include goats, chickens, roosters, horses, cows. I've often wondered why we see these large animals inside of city limits. Brazil should've had an ordinance long ago. Also, what is being done about loose dogs and ferrel cats? Hmmm?

-- Posted by EYN1962 on Thu, Mar 3, 2011, at 9:01 PM

Funny that, EYN1962. When you read the story, the Adam's property WAS outside of the city limits until it was annexed into the city.

Also, if the economy doesn't start picking up and turn around you are going to see a lot more gardens and animals grown just for food.

The current Ordinance is contained in Title IX, General Regulations; Chapter 93; Animals of the Brazil, Indiana Code of Ordinances: http://www.amlegal.com/nxt/gateway.dll/I...

-- Posted by Leo L. Southworth on Thu, Mar 3, 2011, at 9:26 PM

EYN1962- What the story doesn't tell is that the Adams property is 10 acres zoned agricultural, recently annexed. Five of those ten were purchased from the neighbor (widow Leah Thompson) whose new husband is now complaining. The neighbor (deceased Ralph Thompson) used to have sheep, horses and mules in on that property and in that barn. The drainage tile was done by Ralph to flow into the drainage ditch Ralph dug through his property and into drainage pipes on HWY 40. This is not something devised by the Adams. This is 75 yards from the Thompson/Witty house. And it is not sludge. It is overflow water from rain. And there is no smell. The article does not mention that Leah used to feed the chickens scraps on her side of the property line so no wonder they still occasionally wander on their property line. The article does not mention her grand daughter has ridden the horses of the Adams and all once enjoyed a very good neighborly relationship until Larry came along. This article does not mention that Larry has had no problem using the Adams tractor to pull fence posts or move heavy objects around his new property (used to be Ralphs). This is a case of an angry man with cabin fever with very little to do that is productive so he complains and causes problems.

-- Posted by Claycountian on Thu, Mar 3, 2011, at 10:13 PM

LOL....Claycountian, funny how cabin fever can affect you and what a little more information shows.

-- Posted by Leo L. Southworth on Thu, Mar 3, 2011, at 11:11 PM

My name is Trey Adams. I am one of the property owners mentioned in this story. I am commenting on this article because I feel I must correct a few issues.

First and foremost, Mr. Witty's characterization of our property, and the way we care for our animals, is completely inaccurate. My property does not have a foul smell and there is no sludgy runoff. Mr. Witty did provide pictures at the meeting. They were taken on Monday, February 28th following heavy thunderstorms the night before. The pictures show an area where I feed my animals hay during the winter. Predictably, the pictures depict a wet and muddy area on my side of the property...this is a barn yard. Mr. Witty also produced pictures of mud puddles on his side of the property, not dissimilar to the many other mud puddles I saw all over Brazil on my way to work that Monday morning.

Additionally, in my opinion, the article reads as if I acknowledge Mr. Witty's complaints as valid...I DO NOT! I agreed that I would move the location where I am feeding hay to my animals in an attempt to appease Mr. Witty. However, I was misquoted in the article, as I will not be moving the barn and there is no "cleanup" necessary beyond what we ordinarily do day-to-day to maintain the property.

A few other key facts that I feel are worth mentioning:

- My wife and I purchased this property from Mr. Witty's wife, Leah Thompson Witty in 2008. We have maintained animals on this property since 2008.

- Mrs. Witty, herself, has at various times maintained sheep, horses, and donkeys on this same property while under her, and her deceased husband Ralph Thompson's, ownership.

- Mrs. Witty built the barn in it's current location. It has been in that location for at least the 12 years I have owned my current home.

- Mrs. Witty was fully aware that we intended to use this property for agricultural purposes at the time we bought it. She was even kind enough to let us bring some of the animals onto the property before the sale was finalized.

- Mrs. Witty was fully aware of the proximity of the barn to her property line when she sold us the property.

- There is currently a 6 foot privacy fence, that I constructed last summer, along nearly half of this property line. I will complete construction of the privacy fence along the remaining portion of the property line this year.

- This property was recently annexed by the city, but was zoned agricultural by the county. This property has historically been used for agricultural purposes.

- My animals have full access to nearly 10 acres of pasture. They are not penned or confined in any way near the property line I share with the Wittys.

- The property line in question is approximately 75 yards away from the Witty's home. I only mention this because the article also mentions a situation in which an animal is being kept in very close proximity to another person's home. This is definitely not the case in this situation.

- Prior to Mr. Witty's recent dissatisfaction with me or my property, The Witty's grandchildren have played in our barn and ridden our horse. Mrs. Witty has brought friends from her church to see our animals. The Wittys have often fed our animals snacks over the fence.

For anyone that feels it is inappropriate for me to mention the individuals involved in this situation by name, I will remind you that Mr. Witty made this a public issue when he chose to address it in a public meeting with a Brazil Times reporter present. I asked him in the meeting why he didn't just speak to me about his concerns. His reply was that he tried to talk to my wife about it...a year or so ago.

I am taking this situation seriously because I see this as more than a simple neighborly dispute. I keep sheep on my property that are sheared annually. I keep these sheep to sell their fleece. Although this is definitely a small scale farm operation, it is still a business and something I spend a significant portion of my time working on. Mr. Witty's claims are an attack on me personally, as well as an attack on my business and the local economy.

I would also like to mention that we have never received complaints about our animals or property from anyone prior to this. Mr. Witty has chosen to find issue now that my property has been annexed into the city and the city is discussing changes to the animal ordinances.

-- Posted by Trey Adams on Fri, Mar 4, 2011, at 9:40 AM

Mr. Witty should read City Ordinance regarding PIGS AS PETS. Legally, the Adams could keep swine temporarily in shipping pens for shipment to market or elsewhere or keep swine on tracts of land of 5 acres or more which are used exclusively for farming purposes. Then he really would have something to gripe about!

-- Posted by Claycountian on Fri, Mar 4, 2011, at 11:56 AM

Ralph is probably rolling over in his grave at the stupidity of all this nonsense. You go Mr. Adams and fight for your rights! I for one, am behind you!

-- Posted by Proud of My Country on Fri, Mar 4, 2011, at 12:47 PM

My mother used to say, "If you want to live like that, move to the country". Oh, I see, you live in the country, but the city comes to you. Funny how you can be settled, enjoying life, and then suddenly, everything is in the toilet. What was Brazil thinking when it annexed a ten acre farm? What I didn't see in Mr. Adam's comments was his support for Brazil's annexation of his property. Even with a new animal ordinance, the Brazil City Council could grandfather the Adam's family farm as it currently exists. Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. We live and die for this ideal and elect officials to sustain and promote this concept.

-- Posted by dismalscientist on Fri, Mar 4, 2011, at 2:20 PM

Leah, Ithought i knew you better than this.

-- Posted by grays on Fri, Mar 4, 2011, at 5:50 PM

Mr Adams, Backin you on this good luck!

-- Posted by Take Action on Mon, Mar 7, 2011, at 10:03 AM

REALLY? If people don't like the smell of animals....GET OUT OF the rural areas! Clay County is 100% RURAL... YES this includes Brazil. If there was a Large coomercial hog farm on the west side of Brazil, you better bet you will SMELL it 24/7.

If the people of Clay county would be a bit more neighborly....it might be a nice place to live. Take the time out and talk to your neighbors. It sounds like somebody just shot the elastic in their Fruit of the Looms and needs something to complain about. What would Jesus do? Let's all be more neighborly and see where that will take you!

-- Posted by WhyInBrazil on Mon, Mar 7, 2011, at 11:41 AM

In regard to the "smell", I have had individuals from Soil and Water Conservation, the County Health Department, and other City offices on my property today at my invitation. I have asked each of them if they notice any odor or smell on my property, or emanating from my property. None of them indicated that there was any odor.

They also indicated that there was no "sludge", just clear running water in an established drainage, which was determined to be a natural water route that cannot be disturbed. This drainage is only active following heavy rains.

My wife and I both had to take a day off of work today to deal with this. Mr. Witty chose not to be present.

-- Posted by Trey Adams on Mon, Mar 7, 2011, at 3:02 PM

Mr. ADAMS, I don't know you, but I certainly know the Thompson property, Leah & Ralph (God rest him). I spent many days and nights as a teenager with my good friend at the Thompson house and even played with the animals Ralph kept there.

Even into adulthood, I have never smelled odors coming from the property while driving by their beautiful home.

Sounds like the only "stink" is with Mr. Witty. I say to you, Mr. Adams, that I am happy you are standing up for your property and animals. Best of luck to you! I'm sure it'll work out in your favor.

Mr. Witty - if you don't like animals .. you shouldn't have married an animal lover.

-- Posted by Emmes on Tue, Mar 8, 2011, at 9:02 AM

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