Gone (Back) to the Dogs:Supervisors amend beach ordinance to allow dogs again after public outcry
By Dwayne Bremer
Jun 17, 2014, 20:26
Chris Terry and Susan Chambers, from Oneida, Tenn., enjoy the beach beach with their dog Betsy.
The Hancock County Board of Supervisors on Monday amended its new Sand Beach ordinance to allow dogs on the beach and seasonal fireworks.
The board voted 4-1 to approve the amendment. District One Supervisor David Yarborough cast the lone "no" vote.
On June 2, supervisors approved the new ordinance, which closely mirrored Harrison County's plan.
The ordinance was published in Saturday's Sea Coast Echo and was scheduled to take effect on July 15.
Two items in the new ordinance, however, drew the ire of many local residents.
It stated that fireworks and animals of any type, including dogs, would now be prohibited on the beach.
On Monday, supervisors, changed the ordinance to allow properly-leashed dogs and seasonal fireworks.
"I thought that the ordinance allowed for leashed dogs," Board President Lisa Cowand said Monday. "We are not back-tracking, we are just trying to clarify."
Yarborough said he felt it was unfair to allow dogs, but not other pets.
"It is wrong to allow just dog owners to bring their pets to the beach," Yarborough said. "What if I wanted to bring my pot-belly pig out there?"
Additionally, he said, allowing animals could be a safety issue.
"If anyone has seen a child that has been mauled by a dog, they would think twice about turning them loose on the beach," he said. Cowand said that dog owners must follow the current leash law and she encouraged owners to pick up after their animals.
Hancock County Fire Marshal Brian Adam said that fireworks are currently allowed during certain holiday periods. He said residents will need to be aware of when they can shoot fireworks and also if there is a burn ban in place.
County Attorney Gary Yarborough said supervisors will re-advertise the sand beach ordinance and it will take effect 30 days after the publication.
The new ordinance also makes provisions for beach rental areas and commercial vendors. Yarborough said the main goal of the ordinance is to try to encourage more people to come to Hancock County's beaches.
"I think this will be a benefit for everyone," Yarborough said Friday. "If we can increase beach activity, that means more people will be coming here and eating in our restaurants, going to our stores, and spending money here."