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City to tighten up leash law; Proposed rule would confine dogs to private property.

Byline: Nick Kotsopoulos

WORCESTER - Dog owners will soon be required to confine their pets on private property either by a leash or a fence.

Under current city ordinance, leashing of dogs is only required when the dog is off the owner's premises. But after receiving complaints about dogs allowed to roam off their owner's property, the City Council asked for an amendment to the leash law that requires all dogs to be contained on private property either by a leash or fence.

The City Council last night referred the ordinance amendment to its Public Health and Human Services Committee for a public hearing.

City Solicitor David M. Moore said while he has found no such ordinance in Massachusetts, similar ordinances have been adopted by communities in several other states.

He said the extension of the leash/confinement requirement to private property is based on an acknowledgement that dogs left outside on the owner's premises are free to leave the boundaries of private property and do harm to individuals and property.

"A confinement requirement would be rationally related to the public interest by preventing dogs from leaving the property of their owners," Mr. Moore wrote in his report. "I have discovered no court cases where such ordinances were challenged as not serving a legitimate public interest. Therefore, it is my opinion that the City Council has legal authority to enact such an ordinance."

Councilor-at-Large Gary Rosen pointed out that current ordinances regarding dogs are not being complied with. He said dogs are banned from city parks, even on leashes, but added that dogs are often seen being walked by their owners in Elm Park.

In other business, the City Council authorized the city administration to seek funding through a Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery grant for the Canal District Gateway Project. That project is a combination of three efforts:

The reconstruction of Quinsigamond Avenue, from Ashmont Street to Southbridge Street; Southbridge Street, from Southgate Street to Hermon Street; and Lafayette Street, from Quinsigamond Avenue to Southbridge Street.

The reconstruction and implementation of bicycle accommodations for Francis J. McGrath Boulevard.

The Canal District Streetscape Project, which includes Green Street, Water Street, Grafton Street, from Washington Square to Water Street, portions of Millbury and Harding streets, and all of the cross streets from Washington Street to the west and the Interstate 290 bridge to the east.

The total cost of all that work is about $33 million, which is the minimum criteria for the so-called TIGER grant, according to Robert L. Moylan Jr., commissioner of public works and park.

The grant funds are available to state and local governments through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

In another matter, Mayor Konstantina B. Lukes asked the city manager to contact the state Division of Capital Asset Management to find out what is in the works for the disposal of the old courthouse at Main and Highland streets.

She said she has heard that DCAM is going to proceed with an auction for the property, and she is concerned about whether the city will have any say in how the property is used. The mayor said any use for the building needs to be consistent with the North Main Street economic development strategy established by the city.

NAME: WORCESTER CITY COUNCIL
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Title Annotation:LOCAL NEWS
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Sep 16, 2009
Words:546
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