Proposed legislation on Delaware’s permit process for circuses may look a lot different than its initial introduction at Monday’s City Council meeting.
The final draft could ban circuses altogether; ban only their exotic animals; or rely on federal government inspections. What is clear is that the current proposal would be the first update to the requirements in more than 40 years.
Council scheduled a public hearing of the current ordinance for 7:30 p.m. Jan. 9. The potential updates would now have circuses submit a permit application within 30 days prior to the event’s day. Council would grant permission unless it determines the event endangers or threatens the public or that the circus mistreats animals.
City attorney Darren Shulman said the proposed legislation did not define “cruelty to animals,” and what kind of evidence council can use in the permitting process.
Councilman George Hellinger suggested revisions where circuses can bring domesticated animals such as “acrobatic dogs” and horses, but not bears, lions and tigers.
He said society is shifting away from the use of exotic animals for entertainment. SeaWorld, for example, has ended its killer whale breeding program and will phase out their current shows.
Additionally, Hellinger said it would reduce the risk of exotic animals escaping into the city.
Delaware would be the first municipality in Ohio to ban circuses from bringing exotic animals, said Corey Roscoe, Ohio’s state director for the Humane Society of the United States.
“We hope it passes and spreads to other Ohio communities,” she said.
Shulman said banning circuses or their exotic animals would be plausible routes. He recommended that the proposed legislation, at minimum, could deny a permit to a circus if it had any citations issued by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal Plant and Health Inspection Services over a set time period.
A troupe called Circus Pages had performed in the city for six years in a row until this earlier this year. The circus had never applied for a permit until the city brought it to attention before its March performance.
There was a citizen-led petition at the time asking city and county officials to ban any circus because of possible animal abuse. Council members said they did not have enough time to research Circus Pages’ safety record and voted 5-1-1 to table the issue, which canceled the show.
Circus Pages has started the permit process to tentatively perform on March 24. The troupe will attend the public hearing. The city provided a draft of the proposed law to the circus and the citizens, who spoke at the hearing in March.
In other business, council:
• Approved rezoning and plan requests related to the Coughlin’s Crossing development, located between Route 23 and Stratford Road and north of Meeker Way. Delaware Development Plan LTD seeks council approval to rezone the site from agriculture to mixed-use and for its preliminary development plans. The developer would preserve the historic Janes Home and Barn, build 24 single-family homes, three commercial/residential buildings that total 80,000 square feet, an open green space and a 98,700-square-foot big box retailer with 470 parking spaces.
• Approved the following parking resolutions: extend the no parking zone on the west side of North Liberty Street from West William Street to the north property line of 25 N. Liberty St.; remove two 2-hour parking spaces and one 15-minute parking space in front of 216 N. Sandusky St.; and ban parking anytime on the north side of Firestone Drive from the east property line of 188 Firestone Drive to Delaware Drive.
Brandon Klein can be reached at 740-413-0904 or on Twitter at @brandoneklein.