CRESTVIEW — Legalizing keeping pot-bellied pigs, supporting the city bus routes, firefighter training and working on a city social media policy were among topics discussed at the Nov. 26 meeting of the city council.
CRESTVIEW — Pot-bellied pigs might soon be allowed to live lawfully with their human companions within the Crestview city limits thanks to a concerned resident’s petition to the city council. Currently city ordinance, which dates from the 1980s, prohibits the Vietnamese-originated pets.
“I didn’t realize pot-bellied pigs aren’t allowed in city limits until I wanted to adopt one from PAWS, but I can’t adopt her because I live in Crestview,” Brenda Montgomery said. “They are loving. They are hypoallergenic. They are smart.”
Montgomery pointed out that Fort Walton Beach once had similar restrictions, but as pot-bellied pigs gained popularity as pets, the neighbor city revised its animal control ordinance to permit them within city limits.
“They’re not destructive. They’re not feral pigs,” Montgomery said. “Health-wise, they’re pretty hardy animals if they get their vaccinations. They don’t stink.”
Saying she was “not opposed” to revising Crestview’s ordinance, Councilwoman Robyn Helt recommended city staff consult local veterinarians to determine if there are any health issues connected with the pigs. She also advised checking with counterparts in Fort Walton Beach to learn what procedures they used to revise their city’s pet ordinance.
Councilman Tim Grandberry agreed with Helt that prohibiting the pets seemed foolish and said many people in the city, unaware of the ordinance, already have pet pot-bellied pigs.
Councilman Charles Baugh Jr. advised consulting with PAWS (the Panhandle Animal Welfare Society, which handles Okaloosa County animal control services) when revising the city’s ordinance. Baugh also cautioned that pot-bellied pigs turned loose when they grew too big for their owners’ comfort have bred with wild pigs and gone feral.
“There are many wild pot-bellied pigs running around north Okaloosa County because irresponsible pet owners, who don’t realize they’re going to grow into 150-pound pets, brought them up here and turned them loose,” Baugh said.
“I can concur with what Mr. Baugh stated, but I could apply the same standards to cats or dogs,” Helt said. “I believe we should have limited regulation in matters that effect peoples’ day-to-day life. I don’t want to be Big Brother. We have a specific ordinance that prohibits it (having pet pot-bellied pigs). The less amount of prohibitive ordinances that we have in our city, the better.”
The council then voted unanimously to direct city staff to research revising Crestview’s pet ordinance to include pot-bellied pigs.
In other matters, the council:
• Received a request from resident Mae R. Coleman, who encouraged her fellow citizens to support the Okaloosa County Transit bus routes that serve Crestview. “I don’t care where you go, think about your little town,” Coleman implored. Information on using the local bus routes will be mailed with water bills, City Clerk Betsy Roy said.
• Unanimously approved closing city offices from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Dec. 13 so all city employees can share a Christmas luncheon together.
• Received a report from Roy on the progress of issuing a social media policy. When Mayor David Cadle said that the police department was working on a similar policy for its new manual, Helt suggested the two be combined. “Why should we have two separate standards for different employees?” she asked.
• Unanimously approved a memorandum of understanding between the First United Methodist Church and the Crestview Fire Department, which will use a building vacated by the church for rescue and extraction training before the building is torn down.
• Unanimously approved the fire department hosting a regional hazardous materials handling training program at the Community Center in January.
• Unanimously directed staff members to research how city council meetings could be streamed, saved and retrieved by citizens on the city’s website.
• Received a report from Kay Rasmussen of the Economic Development Council, who said she has been appointed interim president of the council upon the recent resignation of Larry Sassano. Rasmussen said she is also be a candidate to fill the position permanently.
• Voted 4-1 against lending up to 100 traffic cones to the 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne) for its Jingle Bell Jog footrace in Fort Walton Beach, citing city policy that prohibits the loan of city equipment outside the city limits.