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Gaming, stray cats the focus of city leaders

Norwalk Reflector Staff • Oct 29, 2015 at 12:18 PM

Norwalk City Council members handled a diverse agenda Tuesday night ordinances to limit gambling, feral cats, a library levy and fire protection.

Council took the first step to modify city ordinances to force businesses such as Spin to Win to locate in specified zoning locations.

"That's what brought the situation to our attention," Norwalk City Law Director Stuart O'Hara said about the controversy of the location of Spin to Win near school.

He said police are no longer issuing daily tickets to the operators of the business because a pretrial hearing will be held next Tuesday regarding the 10 tickets already issued.

Council sent one ordinance to the planning and zoning board and approved another ordinance to amend current zoning regulations to regulate any business that results in the "opportunity to win cash or any prize immediately redeemable for cash."

O'Hara said the process to amend city ordinances could take from two to three months.

Reese Wineman, the attorney for Spin to Win, filed a lawsuit last week in U.S. District Court to stop what the business calls "continuing illegal harassment" from Norwalk officials.

The suit asks for $200,000 in compensatory damages and $2 million in punitive damages for Spin to Win owner David Pugh, business operators Ed and Bonnie Cordle and James Loyer, the owner of the Water Street property where the business is located.

Council met in executive session to discuss possible litigation and personnel matters, but would not say if the litigation concerned the lawsuit filed by Spin to Win.

In a different matter, Don Ratliff, of 34 Jefferson St., told council members that feral cats are invading his property.

"The cats are using the hedges around my front yard as a toilet," he said.

Ratliff said he not only has to remove the feces left by the cats, but also has to spray his porch for fleas. Based on current city policy, he said, "There's nothing we can do with it."

He said he would have to pay $20 for each animal if he caught the feral cats and took them to the Humane Society. But, he added, he can't kill the animals without complaints from the Humane Society.

"I'm tired of spraying my front porch for fleas," he said.

Mayor Sue Lesch acknowledged the problem, but said the expense of a comprehensive program to neuter feral cats is a problem for the city.

Councilman Robert Carleton, who has studied the issue, said the only effective way to handle the problem is at trap, neuter and release (TNR) program. It takes from three to five years for a comprehensive program to handle the problem, Carleton said.

Librarian Martin Haffey and Jeff Reed, head of Friends of the Library, attended the council meeting to ask for support for the library's five-year continuing levy.

Reed told council that the levy would cost the owner of a $100,000 home about $14 annually. "That's less than the cost of a good hardbacked book," Reed said.

Council also toured the fire station and heard the results of a report by T.G. Fire/EMS Systems to review the location of Norwalk's fire station.

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