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Milton Plans to Let Feds, State Rule Over Exotic Animals, Wildlife

The city will address land use in changing its zoning ordinance for AG-1 property rather than add a fourth layer of government on the animals.

Milton City Council members decided it's not their job to corral exotic animals with city laws, but to let federal and state regulators handle the animals and the city will stick with land use.

Community Development Director Kathleen Field brought amendments to the city code to the Monday, Oct. 8 work session at City Hall to create a definition for exotic animals set land use requirements and create a use permit for them.

The text amendments deal with the exhibition or display of exotic wild animals solely for education, or keeping animals for rehabilitation, as long as valid and current wildlife licenses and permits are obtained.

Councilman Matt Kunz said in looking at the big picture, three levels of government in front of the city would be looking at this. As proposed, the amendments would be adding one more level for the owners.

Councilman Joe Longoria wanted to know why the city doesn't just simplify what it puts on its books for what is allowed on AG-1 land, letting the city's laws "sort of piggyback" on the federal and state requirements.

The city may be trying to insert itself too late in the process, said Mayor Joe Lockwood, because state and federal permits may require that facilities for the exotic animals already be constructed before issuing a permit. He suggested writing the ordinance amendment to put the land use permit first, but requiring state and federal permits and licenses to be approved before the property could be housed there.

Councilman Bill Lusk was concerned about how often these animal preserves take inventory after hearing about an alligator found in Gwinnett County recently.

A short list of the animals covered by the definition of exotic animals or wildlife includes: Monkeys, chimpanzees, baboons, lions, tigers, bobcats, jaguars, cougars, wolves, coyotes, bears, venomous snakes, alligators, crocodiles, elephants, hyenas, giraffes, camels, raccoons, possum, tapirs, anteaters, sloths, armadillos, and rhinoceroses.

Field will bring back the text amendments with changes reflecting directions given by City Council, and with input from the Design Review Board. What she presented had received the Planning Commission's recommendation for approval.

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