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City commission passes ordinance amendment addressing cat colonies

City commissioners discuss changing commissioner term limits from three years to four years in their meeting on Monday, July 12, live streamed through YouTube.

In the July 13 meeting, the city commissioners discussed an amendment to the ordinance that will address the cat colonies and changing the term limits of commissioners.

Colonies of cats

After tabeling the amendment in the June 28 meeting, the city commission passed the ordinance to amend chapters 10.5 and 91, Animals of the Code of Ordinances 5-2.

The amendment will give the city the authority to address the colonies of stray cats living in Mount Pleasant by capturing, spaying and releasing them. It will also give city employees the authority to take action when property owners are being uncooperative, said City Manager Nancy Ridley.

The motion was postponed after the executive director of the Humane Animal Treatment Society, Amanda Tillotson, wrote a letter expressing concern that HATS was mentioned in the ordinance without being consulted.

Ridley said that staff met with HATS on July 7 and removed all references to the organization, placing the responsibility for the cats mostly on the city. 

A section was added clarifying that no animals will be euthanized unless a veterinarian deems it necessary. A change was made to section 91.10 in regards to the number of animals residents are allowed to keep on their property. A previous version of the section stated that a resident may have no more than three animals, the amendment has changed the limit to no more than 4.

Commissioner Lori Gillis expressed her support for the ordinance amendment.

“I think our community members have suffered enough with no action taken by our city hall,” Gillis said. “I am glad that [city staff] have found ways to address people feeding feral cats and allowing them to reproduce.”

New term limits for commissioners

Commissioners discussed changing the city commission term limit from three years to four years and potential changes to how the mayor and vice mayor are elected. The new term limits would take effect in the next election. 

The commissioners were presented with two options: option A was to vote on a resolution that would support the concept of a four year term but defer the actual decision until mid next year so that the new term limits would take effect after the November 2022 election. This option would mean two commissioners would serve five year terms in order to properly stagger the commissioner elections.

Option B would pass the resolution so that the new terms would take effect in the next election, which has lower voter turnout. This option would not require any commissioners to serve additional time.

Commissioner Gillis moved to support option A and Commissioner Petro Tolas supported. The motion was denied 4-3.

Commissioner George Ronan moved to support option B and Vice Mayor Amy Pershbacher supported. The motion was approved 5-2.

Other business

  • Three commissioner terms are set to expire December 31, 2021. Nominating petitions to run for city commission are available in the city clerk office at city hall, 320 W Broadway Street, during normal office hours. The completed forms are due July 20. The city election will take place on Tuesday, November 2. Commissioner Gillis and Vice Mayor Pershbacher are both running for re-election. Commissioner Tolas did not respond to Central Michigan Life.