SUMMERVILLE — Dorchester County Council might try to quiet barking dogs again, but don’t count on it.
After nearly a decade of council tabling laws to restrict the numbers of or noise made by dogs in suburbs, Councilman Larry Hargett wants to revisit the issue.
“I think it’s a different time right now. We have new concerns from people,” Hargett said. “What I would really like to see is a livability ordinance.”
That’s the ordinance he proposed two years ago, and saw tabled.
A livability law “takes matters that a lot of people consider their right and puts them in the hands of a civil authority,” said Chairman Bill Hearn. “I don’t think council is in favor of taking people’s rights away one at a time.”
Eight years ago, a neighborhood spat over noisy dogs led council to consider a law limiting the number of pets in subdivisions. A crowded public hearing with loud opposition turned that one on its ear.
Two years later, an Oakbrook-area resident feuding with a neighbor over hunting dogs got the ear of Hargett, the district representative.
Hargett proposed limiting the number of dogs, unsuccessfully. He converted it to a noise law, then a nuisance law, and finally the tabled livability ordinance.
Meanwhile, in Old Fort Estates, next-door neighbors Cliff Loos and Doug Briggs keep fussing over Briggs’ dogs. And Loos keeps calling Hargett.
Old Fort Estates is one of the last back-by-itself country neighborhoods in development-swarmed Oakbrook. When Briggs moved there 25 years ago, he could take his dogs out back into a sprawling woods that was some of the best deer hunting in the lower county. Today, it’s the massive Wescott Plantation subdivision.
Briggs’ property is country and has that lived-in look. Loos’ property next door has that landscaped look. Loos couldn’t be reached for comment Wednesday, but has said the dogs are noisy and smelly.
Briggs said the dispute is a civil-court matter that shouldn’t be in front of council.
Hargett’s proposal might not go that far. It’s been sent to the council’s public safety committee.
“Councilman Hargett has to take action when a constituent complains,” said Committee Chairman George Bailey. “We have to consider all the people. It’ll stay in my committee for a little while, I can assure you. The committee didn’t like it before. I don’t think they’re going to like it again.”
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