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Date of Issue: April 05, 2007

Dog dining law to get redo

dog dining pic

Manatee County commissioners are going to vote again on the ordinance allowing "doggie dining" at certain eateries.

The redo is in response to a concern raised by Holmes Beach Mayor Rich Bohnenbeger at a recent meeting of area elected officials.

At the meeting in late March, Bohnenberger objected to the county including the six Manatee municipalities in the measure they approved in February. The mayor, who went to the meeting ready to bark, wondered whether the county was trying to usurp local home-rule authority.

County commissioners said they didn't realize the ordinance was written to include the municipalities. In other words, the ordinance contained a mistake by a county assistant attorney. Commissioners have since requested an amendment excluding the cities.

Under the ordinance, restaurants with outdoor dining areas can obtain a $100 permit to designate areas where patrons and their pooches can feast.

Bohnenberger emphasized last week that he isn't opposed to dogs dining at restaurants. He is opposed to the county deciding the issue for the citizens of Holmes Beach.

"My issue was not the content of the ordinance," Bohnenberger said. "It was simply the way it was written. If we didn't want it, we would have had to draft an ordinance. I thought it was kind of a trivial thing to impose countywide. My point was it should be our decision, up to our citizens, to adopt it or not and the commissioners agreed with me."

The mayor said he supports countywide ordinances in matters of public safety or when city officials work with county officials to craft a measure.

For example, city and county officials worked together on the panhandling ordinance that county commissioners approved March 27. The ordinance, endorsed by Holmes Beach Police Chief Jay Romine, makes soliciting on or near public streets an offense punishable by a $500 fine, 60 days in jail and/or community service.

The measure is countywide, encompassing all of Manatee County, including the cities.

"We had no objections to it," Bohnenberger said, referring to the panhandling ordinance. "We were fully aware of what they were doing. The chief worked on it. That's perfectly fine."