Rodent control measure gets council’s OK

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During conversations with residents in the months before and since winning the Ward 3 seat on the City Council, John Donegan says one particular issue has come up frequently – the presence of rodents in local neighborhoods.

“I hate to say it, but its one of the most frequent issues that’s brought up when I’m speaking with my constituents,” he said. “This is an issue that I know affects all of the city.”

Based on those concerns – and in an effort to give city officials additional tools with which to combat the critters – Donegan in October introduced a rodent control ordinance amendment for consideration.

On Monday, an amended version of that measure received the full council’s approval on an 8-0 vote.

The amendment adds language to the city’s code granting the Department of Public Works new latitude to take action when a property is deemed to be in a condition that may allow for rodent infestation to occur.

If a property were found to be in that condition, DPW would issue a notice to the property owner requiring corrective action within 30 days. If such steps are not taken, the amendment authorizes the issuing of a fine of up to $50, which can be repeated every 30 days.

“It isn’t meant to generate revenue,” Donegan said. “It’s really meant to give DPW some teeth [in terms of enforcement] … I think this will help the issue.”

The issue of rodent infestation became the subject of a lengthy discussion during the October meeting of the Public Works Committee, when a number of Shirley Boulevard residents appeared to raise concerns over issues in their neighborhood.

The neighbors said the recently clearing of a property that sits between Shirley Boulevard and Concord Avenue had resulted in an influx of the critters into the area. They described the situation as a public health issue.

During that discussion, Public Works Director Ken Mason said rodents have been an issue throughout the city during the past year.

“This has been a tough year for rodents. I don’t know if it’s weather related,” he said.

At November’s Public Works Committee meeting, where Donegan’s rodent control proposal was discussed, residents thanked officials for pursuing new enforcement tools – but said more work will remain to address the issue.

“I feel like this ordinance is a good start,” Ward 3 resident Christopher Ramos said during the meeting.

“On behalf of the neighbors of Shirley Boulevard, we feel heard with an ordinance like this,” resident Matt Westgate told council members.

Ward 5 Councilman Chris Paplauskas said the rodent control ordinance amendment provides city officials with “another tool in the toolbox.” Ward 2 Councilman Paul McAuley called it a “step in the right direction.”

?During the Nov. 14 meeting, Donegan thanked residents for bringing the issue to the city’s attention.

“When you call us, you email us, we do listen. And we’re working on issues that affect your quality of life,” he said.

In other business:

As expected, the council on Monday continued consideration of two measures related to solar energy – a zoning ordinance amendment and a related change to the zoning schedule of uses – until its December meeting.

The council’s Ordinance Committee earlier this month approved amended versions of the two proposals that would effectively prohibit commercial-scale solar installations in A-80 residential and S-1 open space zones – a step that has been sought by neighbors and concerned citizens who have opposed the spread of such projects in Western Cranston.

The delay until December is meant to allow time for the Planning Department and Planning Commission to formulate an amendment to the city’s Comprehensive Plan that matches the language of the zoning and use schedule amendments. A moratorium on commercial-scale solar projects remains in effect through Jan. 31.

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