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Charleston could crack down on cats

Cats -- both feral and domestic -- were the most-discussed topic at a Charleston City Council meeting Monday night.

Councilman Cubert Smith, an East End independent, said there is a major feral cat problem in his neighborhood. In addition, he said, the city's hands are usually tied when it comes to addressing large populations of cats kept by city residents.

"There is not anything in our code that gives us anything to do with these cats," he said.

 Smith cited one property in his ward with about 50 cats inside. Charleston has no restriction as to how many cats someone can have, though large numbers of cats can be considered a health hazard and nuisance, which is a violation of the city's zoning code.

"I think that it should be looked at in a way to resolve the problem," he said.

The city is in the process of hiring a second animal control officer after an officer retired last month.

At-large Councilwoman Mary Jean Davis said she knows of a resident in the Fort Hill neighborhood with 40 cats. Under former Mayor Jay Goldman, she said, there were two proposed ordinances dealing with controlling cats, but both ultimately failed. She said that the city could reexamine those proposals.

Smith suggested the city look at St. Albans' ordinance, which limits residents to having two cats each. Charleston already limits residents to owning two dogs.

Council took no formal action on the matter.

In other business, council:

-- Approved an agreement with Propane Fuel Technologies to convert four Ford F-150 pickup trucks to run on liquid propane. The city will have to pay $40,000 for the conversion initially, but that money will be reimbursed through a U.S. Department of Energy Clean Start grant.

City Manager David Molgaard told council's finance committee that the city was approached by Propane Fuel Technologies to have the conversion performed, and that a filling station is already available for refueling on the West Side.

The trucks will still be able to run on gasoline, he said. Running the trucks on liquid propane is expected to save money on fuel costs.

"This is our first foray into this," Molgaard said.

The city has no plans for additional conversions yet. Molgaard said the current competition between compressed natural gas (CNG) and liquid propane is bound to eventually end with one besting the other.

"It just didn't make financial sense for us to go that route just yet," he said.

* Accepted a $22,500 grant from the West Virginia Archives and History Commission to be used for repairs for the mausoleum at Spring Hill Cemetery. The city applied for the money in March.

The grant will be combined with a $22,500 match from the Spring Hill Cemetery Endowment Fund to repair ventilation vents, windows, entry doors and some masonry.

The mausoleum, which is more than 100 years old, has fallen into disrepair. Over the past year, the city has been slowly rehabilitating it as funds become available.

Contact writer Matt Murphy at or 304-348-4817.



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