SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- South Charleston City Council passed an urban deer-hunting ordinance Thursday night.
The measure, recommended by the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, is the only option for controlling the deer population, according to Mayor Frank Mullens, who said it was determined that tranquilizing and relocating deer was not a viable alternative.
"When I first heard about it, I was opposed to the idea, like many people who just weren't educated about how urban deer hunting works," he said. After meetings with the DNR, Mullens said he came to realize that the proposal, which includes an application and permit process and training classes, ensures hunting will be "as safe as it can be for an urban area."
He stressed that 90 percent of the population will be completely unaware of the fact that urban hunting is ongoing and "people won't be running through your yards trying to shoot deer."
According to City Engineer Steve DeBarr, there are only about 15 properties within the city limits that qualify for consideration and population control, and it will take time.
City officials are "working on finalizing the rules and regulations for the urban deer hunting," City Attorney Michael Moore said. Final legislation will be available next week, and hunting should begin in early September.
In other business:
Council passed an ordinance to establish a right of way on Eagle Drive near the Budweiser plant. According to Moore, the ordinance expressly states the city will not have to pay for construction of the roadway but will be responsible for maintenance.
Council proposed an ordinance to prohibit owners of single-family dwellings from renting rooms.
"We've had a growing issue in neighborhoods where homeowners have taken in boarders," Mullens said. "Complaints as simple as parking and as serious as drug activity have been brought to our attention."
Rock Lake Village experienced a recent problem with "people who rented rooms causing problems," Mullens said.
Council also proposed rezoning parts of Second and Third avenues and C Street near the 7-Eleven convenience store and the hotels to better reflect the commercial nature of the area and allow for further development.
The new owners of several parcels of land west of the hotels have met with the planning commission, which recommended the zoning change, Mullens said.
"Preliminary plans are to put in a strip mall and maybe some housing units," Mullens said. "But that plan could change."
Pat Taylor and Charles McCormick, representatives of the Kanawha Valley Soap Box Derby Association, presented the city with a plaque recognizing their continued support. According to Taylor, the soap box derby track in Little Creek Park is the only track in the U.S. with lighting for nighttime use and is one of the country's premier tracks.
"Somehow, I think we should be giving you the award for all the things you do for the kids," Mullens said.
Assistant Police Chief R.L. Houck reported the field of applicants for the two positions available at the department has been narrowed and hiring decisions are imminent.
Fire Chief John Taylor invited people to like the Fire Department's new Facebook page, where they can find news and information about fire prevention.
Mullens announced that the city's free mobile app for cellular phones is in the final stages of approval with Apple and Android and will soon be ready for download.
Cathy Burke was named to the planning commission, and Ida Mae Snodgrass was named to the housing authority.