Cary News

Morrisville debate dominated by pet waste, lawn mower noise

The Town Council labored past midnight at its July 12 meeting as it wrestled with a series of quality-of-life ordinances: a new pet waste fee and lawn-mowing regulations.

Robert Patterson, the town’s stormwater engineering manager, proposed a pet waste ordinance that would levy a $100 fine for second-time offenders. First-time offenders would get by with a warning.

He said pet waste can pollute water and infect swimming areas with unhealthy bacteria, in addition to being a nuisance.

The council agreed that the ordinance is a good idea, but some were concerned about how it would be enforced.

“Moving this forward and turning it into policy for the town is a good first step,” Councilwoman Vicki Scroggins-Johnson said. “But it’s not clear who has to witness.”

Patterson said the town would enforce the ordinance the same way it handles litter ordinances, which means only stormwater staffers would be able to charge people for the offense if they witness it.

Police officers would not be tasked with catching people in the act, Town Manager Martha Paige said.

“You don’t want to pay your police for picking up pet poop,” Paige said.

Patterson also said that pictures and calls from members of the community would not suffice as proof, leading Mayor Mark Stohlman to criticize the ordinance as being supported by “empty enforcement.”

For now, though, the town’s stormwater staff has been handing out pet-waste bag dispensers and brochures at veterinary offices to encourage people to pick up after their pets.

There will be a public hearing to discuss the ordinance at the July 26 council meeting.

Noise ordinance

The council also held a lengthy conversation about how lawnmowers can be used on golf courses.

In 2008, the town made an exception in the town’s noise ordinance for golf courses. It allowed golf course staff to mow the greens starting at 6 a.m., rather than 7 a.m., between May and August.

In 2011, the ordinance was amended to allow golf courses to mow greens from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily all year.

But Stohlman raised the idea of changing the golf course exception due to noise concerns from homeowners along the Prestonwood Country Club, part of which lies in Cary. He said that there had been no complaints filed with town police, but added that residents tend to complain directly to the club.

He suggests returning the start time to 7 a.m. year-round, adding that the earlier time is harmful to residents’ quality of life.

“Give people that extra hour,” he said.

After Matt Massei, the general manager of the Prestonwood Country Club, said that waiting until after 7 a.m. to start mowing would harm his business, Councilwoman Liz Johnson said she was convinced it would be better to keep the exception in place.

“To me and you that might make sense,” she said. “But I don’t run a golf course, and (Massei) just said it doesn’t work for him.”

Council members Satish Garimella and Michael Schlink said they didn’t like the idea of giving the golf course an exception, even though the exception has been in place since 2011.

“If we allow them, we have to allow everyone,” Schlink said. Public works services, such as garbage collection, must wait until after 7 a.m. to start running.

An ordinance was passed in Cary last year, despite residents‘ objections, that allowed earlier golf-course mowing. The Town Council amended the previous ordinance to include letting crews start course maintenance at 6 a.m. from April through September and to use a wider variety of equipment.

Action will be taken to either continue the current ordinance or amend it at Morrisville’s July 26 meeting.

Connelly: 919-460-2609; @pconnellly