City Council gives 2 bills first reads

COVINGTON -- Two ordinance changes are under way for Covington.

The first ordinance change to receive a first reading Monday by the Covington City Council was one that would allow the use of bows and arrows in certain parts of the city.

The council first discussed the issue in July when Covington resident and former director of the Wildlife Resources Division of the state Department of Natural Resources David Waller asked council members to consider allowing residents to use bows and arrows to help thin a growing deer population.

Waller said the increase in the number of deer in the city is beginning to cause problems for homeowners who are seeing their gardens and landscaping decimated by the animals. However, more serious issues could be on the horizon, including higher instances of deer-related vehicle collisions and deer ticks infecting people and pets.

The City Council agreed to move forward on considering a revision of the city's weapons ordinance that would allow the discharge of archery equipment. State law regarding hunting would need to be followed, meaning bow hunting would not be allowed within 100 yards of a residence, and only licensed hunters would be permitted to hunt deer during bow hunting season, typically between September and January. Furthermore, only hunters who have secured written permission of the homeowner would be allowed to hunt on property.

Councilwoman Hawnethia Williams was the only dissenting vote on the first reading of the ordinance. She said she was concerned that the safety of residents would be compromised.

The council also held the first reading to amend the city's charter.

The city's charter, which was created in 1962, does not allow the mayor, any member of the City Council or city employee to sell any property or product to the city. City Manager Steve Horton said this change to the city's charter would simply bring it in line with state law that permits public employees to participate in these activities.

"This will help small business owners, like (Councilman) Chris (Smith) to participate in the sealed bid process," Mayor Kim Carter said.

Smith, who was elected to the council in 2009, is president of Newton Electric Supply, which sells electrical and lighting supplies for residential, industrial and commercial customers.

The change to the charter would allow elected officials and city employees to sell less than $200 per quarter of personal property to the city, participate in sealed competitive bid processes, and sell real property to the city so long as public and timely disclosure of the official's or employee's stake is made.

The second readings of the proposed ordinance changes will likely be held during the council's next meeting, scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Aug. 16 at City Hall.