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Joliet council approves vicious dog ordinance

JOLIET – The city has a new ordinance regulating vicious dogs, although a few residents questioned whether it is strict enough.

The City Council on Tuesday passed the dog ordinance and also approved a partnership agreement with Holsten Real Estate Development Corp. on future management of Evergreen Terrace.

The dog ordinance got more attention, with residents saying the city still needs to go further to control dangerous animals.

“There is an extreme time gap between an incident and enforcement,” resident Robert Swanson said. He noted that a city hearing on a dog attack “may not take place for several weeks after an incident occurs.”

Some council members agreed that the next test will be how effectively the city enforces the ordinance.

But they also noted the ordinance, along with a new intergovernmental agreement with Joliet Township Animal Control, actually spells out response times for incidents and gives the city authority to have dogs euthanized if they have killed or seriously injured a person or companion animal.

“At this point, I believe we have a much better ordinance and a much better intergovernmental agreement,” said Councilman Terry Morris, who heads the Land Use and Legislative Committee that held several meetings to develop the new regulations.

“We passed the ordinance knowing full well that there would need to be some tweaking down the road,” said Councilwoman Jan Quillman, another member of the committee. “But we wanted to get something in place.”

The ordinance also provides for restitution for victims of dog attacks.

Resident Greg Hidlebaugh said the new regulations will do nothing for his situation. Hidlebaugh and his wife were attacked by two pit bulls in January in the Timber Edge Villas subdivision. His wife’s wrist was broken in the attack.

Mayor Bob O’Dekirk noted it would be illegal to create a new law that applied to past occurrences. But he and other city officials said the ordinance and new agreement with Joliet Township is aimed at addressing those past problems.

Evergreen Terrace

The council voted, 5-2, on a partnership agreement with Holsten for future management and redevelopment of Evergreen Terrace, the privately owned, subsidized housing complex. The city won a federal condemnation case to take over the complex but is awaiting the outcome of an appeal.

Voting no were Quillman and Larry Hug.

The agreement will lead to the creation of a new corporation to be called Riverwalk Homes, which will be a 50-50 partnership between Joliet and Holsten to oversee management and redevelopment of Evergreen Terrace.

City Manager Jim Hock said Holsten will get 7 percent of gross income from Evergreen Terrace to manage the complex.

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