The city of Delaware became the first Ohio community to ban circuses from bringing exotic animals.
City Council approved two related ordinances on Monday, one of which would update permit process for the first time since 1976. Council included the exotic animal ban for circuses in January along with a measure to deny permission to circuses if it had a certain number of violations from the U.S. Department of Agriculture or the local animal control within the past three years.
The other ordinance updates codified ordinance section 505.23 to remove the general exotic animal ban exemption for circuses. Also updated was the list of acceptable animals the public and circuses may have, such as non-venomous, non-crocodilian reptiles under six-feet in length, amphibians and a variety of birds — finches, canaries and doves.
Council included a clarification that race horses were still permitted.
In addition, both proposed laws would exempt animal care professionals employed by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the Zoological Association of America and accredited zoos.
Resident Julie McDonough expressed her support on social media.
“Words cannot express how excited we are this evening,” she said. “One small accomplishment in our small town that hopefully will continue to cause a ripple across the country and across the planet to help the victims of circus abuse everywhere. We did this for you — the imprisoned, confined and abused.”
The two new laws were approved almost unanimously. Mayor Carolyn Kay Riggle abstained from both votes. While supportive, she said voting on the two measures would be a conflict of interest because she is a member of the Delaware County Agricultural Society, which hosts circuses at the fairgrounds. Councilman Joe DiGenova was absent because of illness.
Fairgrounds officials were unavailable for comment, but Fair Manager Sandy Kuhn voiced opposition to the move because it would take away another form of entertainment for families. Circus Pages would pay the fairgrounds about $1,000 to $1,500 to rent and heat its Coliseum facility each year from 2011 to 2015.
Florida-based Circus Pages tentatively planned to perform in Delaware in late March. Its performance last year was canceled because it did not file a permit in time, which came up after some residents protested it coming to town because of animal abuse allegations.
Residents and out-of-town advocates spoke out mostly in favor of the update to the permit and the inclusion of an exotic animal ban at a public hearing in January.
Aside from the circus, Riggle gave a proclamation presentation to recognize conference champion Dempsey Middle School girls basketball team.
In other business, Council:
• Establish a public hearing for a resolution to authorize a no parking zone on Lexington Boulevard between Buehler Drive between Thistle Drive at 7:15 p.m. March 13.
• Establish a public hearing for an ordinance to raise water and refuse rates at 7:30 p.m. March 13. The proposed changes would raise an average resident’s utility bill by 2.86 percent.
• Accepted the recommendations from the downtown parking study.
• Approved to change the name of an access road, between Crystal Petal Drive and Cheshire Road, from Columbus Pike to Kingman Hill Drive.
Gazette reporter Brandon Klein can be reached by email or on Twitter at @brandoneklein.