The Huxley City Council approved its city code concerning reptiles to be revised to allow residents to have constrictor snakes as pets.
The change is a result of a resident’s request to bring the family’s pet snakes into town. Currently the snakes are being kept at a friend’s house in another city.
It was decided by the council that the city adopt Des Moines’ exotic animal ordinance. Under the new city code, Huxley residents must register their snakes, pay an annual permit fee of $10, follow the limit of four constrictor snakes per household and notify their neighbors of the snakes.
During the meeting, several council members and city employees voiced their opposition to allowing constrictor snakes.
Councilwoman Marge Nerness said having such pets becomes a public safety issue, especially in multi-family housing. If a snake gets out, it could potentially harm someone else living in that same establishment or a nearby residence.
"If people want to have those types of pets, they need to live in a rural area," Nerness said.
City Clerk Jolene Lettow said Huxley first responders have said they will not want to go into a residence where constrictor snakes are kept if there is an emergency call.
Huxley Police Chief Mark Pote also said he is also not in favor of allowing pet constrictor snakes within city limits.
On the other hand, Councilman Scott Wilson said he does not see the increased risk posed by pet snakes.
"I don’t think they pose any more of a threat than dogs or many other animals," Wilson said.
While Wilson made the motion to allow constricting snakes within city limits, he did voice his lack of understanding of why people would want pet snakes.
"I don’t understand why people want snakes as pets, but to each their own," Wilson said.
The motion was approved 3-2, with Nerness and councilwoman Tracey Roberts in opposition.
Highway 69, First Street improvements
A public hearing will be held during the June 25 Council meeting to discuss improvements to be made at the Highway 69 and First Street intersection on the south side of Huxley.
The project involves adding a traffic signal at the intersection and widening the east side of Highway 69 12 feet in order to create left turning lanes. City engineer Gabe Nelson said there will be very little work done on the west side of the intersection. A portion of land owned by Casey’s General Store on the northeast side of the intersection will need to be purchased for the widening. Land on the southeast corner will not need to be purchased since it falls within the right-of-way.
Also included in the improvements is the paving of the pathway that leads to the Heart of Iowa bike trail south of the hardware store. The now gravel pathway will be paved from the intersection to where the trees begin at the start of the trail.
The intersection will remain open to traffic throughout the entire construction process. Nelson said there will be one weekend during which traffic through the intersection will be controlled by flaggers in order to do patchwork.
The project is expected to cost $493,000. An Urban-State Traffic Engineering Program (U-STEP) grant from the Iowa Department of Transportation will fund $200,000 of the cost, while the city will be responsible for the remaining amount.
Bids for the project will open June 19 at 2 p.m. Nelson said construction is slated to begin July 5, and most of the street paving will be done by Sept. 1. The contractor chosen for the project will have until Nov. 1 to have the traffic lights installed.
Council also approved a request to rezone land owned by Meadow Lane Investments LLC. The small strip of land near East Fourth Street is currently zoned as multi-family (R-3), but will now be changed to single family (R1A).
Steve Quick of Meadow Lane Investments LLC said the land has been zoned as multi-family since he purchased it. If a future collector road extends through East Fourth Street, multi-family residential development could only be done on one side of the road.