Tears and angry words flowed at the Ward City Council meeting when aldermen held to the city animal control ordinance prohibiting horses. Size is of no consideration, the council members agreed, in saying a miniature horse cannot be kept within city limits on lots less than one acre.
Shortly before the council adjourned, Merle Tullos stormed into the council meeting demanding to know, “What’s wrong with you people? Seriously. Are you that hard?”
The request for the waiver was among the issues considered by the council at the June 10 meeting.
Mayor Art Brooke and council members Bill Moon, Lee Schoonover, Jeff Shaver, Gary Matheny, Charles Gastineau and Don Howard attended the meeting.
Consideration of a request for a waiver to the city ordinance was tabled at the May 13 meeting, to be brought back after aldermen had time to investigate possible options. Owner Patricia Tullos asked for the waiver after being warned by city animal control officer that the miniature horse could not be kept in the city.
Old business, tabled from last month. Question here is whether she can keep a pet pony, or horse, in a residential area, Brooke said.
At the May 13 meeting, the council tabled action on the June 10 meeting. “I will ask for a motion to approve or disapprove [a waiver], and that ruling will be final,” Brooke said.
Gastineau said the ordinance does prohibit horses in city limits, but that the council could waive it, provided conditions are met. He added that he had visited the house on Brewer Street earlier in the day.
“I am concerned about the space available for that horse,” Gastineau said. While there is “plenty of shade,” he is concerned about the space and lack of “natural grass,” he said.
“My recommendation is not to approve the waiver,” Gastineau said.
Moon added that he had checked and determined that there is not an acre available for the horse.
Former owner James Williams said the lot is less than a half acre
Tullos replied that she had been told the lot was an acre.
Gastineau added that the backyard is about the size of the council meeting room.
Schoonover said he is concerned about setting a precedent. “Where do you draw the line? The next person comes in and says ‘I’ve got a small pig, I’ve got a small cow,’” he said.
“The whole idea behind the ordinance was to keep farm animals out of city limits,” Schoonover said.
The council voted unanimously to not approve a waiver. At Brooke’s suggestion, Tullos was given 30 days to comply with the ordinance.
As she departed, Tullos berated the council. “I can’t have children, and our animals are our children,” she had just been told to get rid of one of her children, she said tearfully.
Later, just as the council prepared to vote adjourn, Tullos returned, accompanied by Merle Tullos. “What is wrong with you people? You all have a heart?” he demanded, as he approached the front of the room.
At the front of the room, Chief of Police Steve Benton blocked Tullos’ way, but took no other action.
Moon responded, saying the council had followed the ordinance. “You are just not in the right area for the horse,” he said.
Tullos replied that the horse is small, “Just itty-bitty.”
“Know what you are talking about. It is still a horse,” Moon replied.
The council then voted on the motion to adjourn.
Benton and Tullos remained at the front of the room, speaking between each other; then the Tulloses departed.
“I just told him that this was not the way to handle this, and he chose to listen to that,” Benton said.
In other matters during the meeting, the council approved the purchase of the former Co-Op property on Arkansas Highway 367.
“It has been offered to us at a reasonable price. I think it is in our best interests to secure the property,” Brooke said. It would be beneficial to have readily available property to convince a business to locate at Ward, he said.
Brooke said the property was appraised at $125,000; the purchase price offered the city is $62,500.
“I would, certainly, encourage us to secure the property as an investment…” Brooke said.
“We have the cash money … ,” he said.
City office manager Deborah Staley said the bank listed the property as having 1.58 acres.
The council voted to purchase the property.
In other action, Brooke announced the annual Joint Legislative Audit of the city is complete. “Everything is in order,” Brooke said.
Brooke said the recent death of the owner of the company providing city trash likely would have little to effect on the service. “Currently, [the company] is solid,” Brooke said. There was a time the service was late, but that was attributed to funeral arrangements being scheduled on the days the city was to be served, Brooke said.
The rains at the time also prevented equipment from entering the landfill area, Brooke said. “But everything is back on schedule, to the best of my knowledge,” he said.