Ephrata Borough mayor opposes lethal force to control feral cats
nSays he would veto proposed ordinance. Council questions if he has power to block it from becoming law. BY LARRY ALEXANDER, Staff Writer
If a proposed ordinance allows police to use lethal force to control feral cats in Ephrata Borough, Mayor Ralph Mowen said he will veto it.
"If this ordinance is passed as written, allowing police officers to shoot feral cats, I will not sign it," Mowen said at Monday's borough council workshop meeting.
Mowen's comment raised eyebrows, and council President Dale Hertzog inquired if the mayor had the power to block an ordinance from becoming law. Informed the mayor could, Hertzog asked what recourse council would have in the event of a mayoral veto.
"There are procedures in place for that," Mowen replied.
In fact, any veto of an ordinance by the mayor could be overridden if six of the eight council members voted to do so.
Borough manager Robert Thompson said that the document was a draft version presented to the special projects committee. It was a "hybrid ordinance that included components of various ordinances" for the committee to review and discuss at its next meeting, Thompson said, "to determine which elements they want to include and which ones they don't want to include."
"It doesn't have any momentum at this point in time," Thompson said. "It's just under discussion."
The draft ordinance calls for feral cats to be trapped, then taken to a veterinarian to be neutered and have their ears notched, then released. It also allows for the use of "lethal force," Thompson said.
Mowen reiterated that he will not allow lethal force to be used. Even if a veto was overridden by council, he said, "I will issue an order that police officers will not shoot cats in the borough."
Hertzog said, "We will take that as the mayor's line in the sand,"
After the meeting, Mowen said, "The way the ordinance is worded, if they can't catch the cat, they have the ability to take lethal means to get rid of it. There is no way that I am going to permit shooting cats in the borough. What's to stop some resident from saying 'what the heck? The cops can shoot them, why can't I?' "
Mowen said he understood that the review is in draft form and is under review, "but just I wanted to let them know."
In other business, council was told that at its voting meeting next week, they will be presented with the final plan for Keystone Villa, to be built at the site of the former Donecker's Artworks.
The plan calls for razing all but a section of one building of the former Artworks at 100 N. State St. and constructing approximately 140 units, including congregate care (which combines private living quarters with centralized dining services), personal care and memory care.
Thompson said the developer, Hollenbach Elliott Development Group, hopes to start on the project by mid- to late summer.
Council also discussed the possibility of providing more space for storage of road salt. Currently, the borough has 400 tons of anti-skid material for use in snow, stored at its public works complex. Thompson said, the hope is to provide space to store as much as 1,400 tons, possibly at more than one location.
"We presently have enough road salt for one major storm before we have to reorder, then we're at the mercy of getting it delivered," Thompson said.
He added that, finding a second location "outside of the public works fence line would shorten the travel time for our vehicles to get refilled."
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"If this ordinance is passed as written, allowing police officers to shoot feral cats, I will not sign it."
Ephrata Borough mayor