County considers impacts of new off-leash area
Park City’s decision to make its portion of Round Valley an off-leash area has left Summit County leaders scratching their heads as they try to understand the impact it will have on the land under its jurisdiction, especially in terms of enforcement by Animal Control officers.
The Park City Council recently established two new off-leash areas, including approximately 1,400 acres of city-owned property in Round Valley. Both areas were opened on Friday. Most of Round Valley falls within the city’s boundaries and that is what was designated as off-leash, however, small portions of land are outside of the city and fall under the county’s jurisdiction.
County officials are now trying to understand what the discrepancies are between the city and the county’s off-leash ordinances and whether its officers will have to enforce two different sets of rules in the same area. Park City Municipal has an agreement in place with Animal Control for its officers to enforce the city’s ordinances within its limits.
County Council members are scheduled to meet with Animal Control Administrator Clay Coleman Wednesday, Jan. 20, to discuss the city’s new ordinance and receive some legal direction on how to proceed with policing the area.
When the county reviewed its Animal Control ordinances, staff looked at a wide variety of jurisdictions to adopt new ordinances that would permit some flexibility and allow the creation of off-leash areas, County Council Chair Roger Armstrong said.
"Park City did what we hoped the off-leash ordinance would allow," Armstrong said. "But now we want to understand whether the ordinances created additional provisions that would require our officers to enforce two rules in those areas.
"If that’s the case, then we need to understand those," Armstrong said. "But if their ordinance fits ours and is consistent, then it’s fairly straightforward."
The county’s off-leash ordinance requires that all dogs be under voice and sight control and that owners carry a physical leash. Electronic dog collars do not suffice. Dogs are also not allowed to chase, charge or show any aggression toward a person or animal. Similarly, the city’s ordinance also requires sufficient voice and sight control to prevent any unwanted interactions with people, animals or wildlife. However, the city’s ordinance specifically mentions wildlife and the proper disposal of waste.
On Thursday, Coleman said he was still waiting to receive more information from the county attorney’s office before making a determination on how to enforce the city’s new ordinance.
"I completely support the off-leash area that Park City has designated and we will patrol accordingly," Coleman said. "The most important thing for me that I want to convey to the public is that it’s not like a public swimming pool where you have lifeguards around the pool all the time. We will be out and about doing our job, however, we will not be sitting at the trail heads and we won’t really even be around Round Valley unless we get a call.
"I think we are all crossing our fingers saying, ‘let’s see how this works,’" Coleman said.
County Attorney Robert Hilder said he plans to spend the weekend examining the two ordinances, before adding he doesn’t not have any definitive answers to the council’s questions yet. Hilder said if there are any discrepancies between the two, it could require the county to rewrite their ordinance.
"That’s what I am trying to find out," Hilder said. "Have we had a change that creates any difficulty in enforcement? I haven’t gone through it yet, though, to see where we stand."
Another option available to Park City is to ask the county’s to adopt Park City’s off-leash rule on the property it controls.
Helen Strachan, deputy county attorney, said some informal conversations have taken place between city and county staff on this issue, however, they have been "fairly preliminary,"
"I think that’s in the works," Strachan said. "But at the county level we are just trying to iron out some of the details of how we process this."
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Councilor Glenn Wright estimated that the ability to provide renewable energy sources for county power will cost the average Summit County resident $0.70 per year above current costs.