Vague ordinance led council to rewrite the code.
After nearly a year of debate and research, the Cottonwood Heights City Council in Cottonwood Heights, UT has approved an ordinance that enables residents of the city, with proper permits, to keep up to 25 "exotic pets" in a home. The ordinance, the first of its kind in the state that restricts the number of pets a homeowner can keep, is partially in response to the actions of former resident Thomas Cobb, who was cited last year for keeping 29 boa constrictors in his home after one woman in the Hollow Ridge subdivision complained to the city council that Cobb's reptiles were a nuisance, a threat to the community, and would cause property values to fall.
When police arrived, they found 14 five-foot boa constrictors and 15 four-foot boa constrictors in what the police said were very clean and professional enclosures. Nevertheless, the police cited him for failure to obtain an exotic pet permit. And the city permit at the time allowed for just one snake. Because the existing ordinance was vague, the city council set out to revise it.
“It’s probably a good balance, because I’m sure those who are advocating greater restrictions won’t be happy that we didn’t go lower than 25 and those who don’t feel like there should have been any restrictions will be mad that we put any limitations in,” Mayor Kelvyn Cullimore Jr. said during the council’s Jan. 28 meeting.
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According to the ordinance, an exotic pet is any animal that isn't specifically limited or prohibited elsewhere in the code and includes a large swath of animals, including birds and reptiles. Residents who keep more than five exotic animals of any type must obtain an exotic animal hobbyist permit. Those keeping more than 25 animals must obtain a commercial animal establishment permit and be housed in a conforming non-residential location.