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Flower Mound restaurants now able to allow dogs

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Flower Mound council members on Monday night approved creating an ordinance to establish a variance process allowing dogs on patios of permitted restaurants.

Environmental Services Director Matthew Woods said that although state law prohibits dogs on restaurant property, municipalities may enact such a variance.

Woods presented several operating rules for participating restaurants: a sign must be posted at the entrance notifying customers; dogs may enter the patio only through an outside gate; there must be a setback of seven-feet to restaurant doors, which must have self-closing doors to the patio; food preparation on the patio is not allowed; direct contact with the dogs by restaurant employees is prohibited; and, there will be control, location and feeding restrictions.

Council member Kevin Bryant requested added wording about regular patio maintenance, such as San Antonio’s ordinance, to address dog fur, dander, debris and waste.

Woods added that enforcement would be done through regular inspections, plus customer complaints. Any restaurant in violation of its permit will lose it.

“I can see this being something that a restaurant would offer on a Tuesday night,” said council member Bryan Webb. “On a night that it might not have a lot of traffic, it might generate a little extra traffic.”

Mayor Tom Hayden clarified that for a restaurant with a patio area will have the opportunity to offer dog patronage, but it’s not mandatory. Also, a participating restaurant may set its own “dog hours.”

“If you as a restaurant manager feel like this is going to benefit your restaurant you have the option to do so,” he said. “If you’re a patron, you have the option of eating inside, or avoid the restaurant.”

The movement to allow dogs in restaurants started last August when resident Pamela Tuckey wrote an open letter to Mayor Hayden, suggesting the town change its code banning dogs in such places. The letter became a petition and has been signed by 668 people.

Town Charter Amendments

In addition to its unanimous decision to forward a Town Resolution protesting the proposed sale for oil and gas leases of about 37,000-acres, including approximately environmentally sensitive 258 acres in the vicinity of the damaged Lewisville Lake Dam, the Town Council also made a decision not to address possible Town Charter amendments.

Instead, council members agreed at its March 21 meeting to appoint residents to a Charter Review Commission. The goal is the have proposed Charter Amendments listed on the November 2016 ballot. The deadline for ballot placement is 90-days prior to the election; this August.

As a member of a previous Charter Review Commission, Paul Stone encouraged council members not to rush the process, because Charter Amendments may not be reviewed less than every two years.

He said the council should take the time needed to make sure the proposed amendments include everything. He specifically pointed out that “how to address the removal of a council member” should be included.

It was decided that the sitting council would appoint the commission members, while the post-May 7 election council members will review the Charter Amendments proposed by the Review Commission for potential placement on the ballot.

The Flower Mound Home Rule Charter was originally adopted on November 3, 1981. It has subsequently been amended five times: April 1985; May 1989; May 2004; May 2007; and, May 2012.

The Town Council has the option to appoint a Charter Review Commission, or initiate proposed amendments. A regular review of the Town Charter is required every five years. However, once Town Charter Amendments are passed, another review may not be done for two years.

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