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Anonymous Lindon letter stirs up controversy

By Audra Rasmussen - Correspondent - | May 13, 2012

LINDON — There are three things sacred to old time residents of Lindon — cows, horses and water.

For some newcomers, though, the flies and smells accompanying the city’s theme of “A little bit country” has gone too far.

The Banks children in west Lindon are raising steers for their 4-H projects and to sock money away from sales for their college education. For the past few months the Lindon City Council sessions have been filled with concerned citizens regarding animal rights in residential areas, and a handful of neighbors say they are tired of the stench, filth and hoards of flies those steers attract to their neighborhood.

“We can’t evict cows because we have an ordinance that allows cows,” Mayor Jim Dain said. “If we change that ordinance we are going to have a room full of folks here.”

Laurie Banks, the homeowner, has been at several city council meetings defending herself and hoping to see a resolution.

“I would love for this all of this to go away,” Banks said. “Mr. Cross came by one time after a year of complaining and trying to rally neighbors up. Several neighbors have come to us saying there is this fellow that is rallying around. He is new in the neighborhood. Doesn’t he know we live in Lindon? Those types of things. I said I don’t know, I haven’t met him. If he had an issue I would think he would come and talk to us.”

The flies and stench have increasingly become a nuisance for neighbors who complain that because of the cows in the Banks’s backyard they are unable to enjoy their yards or open their windows.

“I cannot even open a window for fresh air. I cannot enjoy a barbecue in my own backyard. The smell, the flies are awful,” James Cross said.

Originally neighbors were complaining that the Bankses were raising four cows on a half-acre lot when the city ordinance said they could only have two on their lot. The Banks have recently removed two of the cows from their property to comply with the ordinance, even though in a previous city council meeting the mayor told the Bankses they had until May 15 to comply with the ordinance.

Cross and several other neighbors are frustrated at the city council’s lack of action as well.

“They have done nothing to help,” Cross said. “They are not listening.”

The Bankses say they feel differently.

“There was one week where we had someone at our home every single day, an officer or a city member or something,” Banks said. “We didn’t feel comfortable leaving our home.”

Lindon city representatives have made several visits to the Banks’ home. Besides having too many cows on the lot they did not find anything they felt needed to be corrected.

Fueling the neighbors’ ire, Cross has documented the incident for years with photos, letters and getting PETA involved.

“There are several in the neighborhood who are concerned — concerned about what is going on, trying not to get involved, but worried because everything is escalating fast with no resolution,” said a neighbor who did not want to be named.

Dain repeatedly asked what they would like for the city to do, stating the city has ordinances that allows cows.

“What you are asking us in essence is to change our ordinance so that we don’t allow cows on half acre lots,” Dain said. “I just want to get clear on this.”

In 2010 the city conducted a survey in which they received more than 700 responses, and 87 percent of respondents said they favored continued allowance of animal rights in residential neighborhoods.

Lindon does have several codes in place that promote safe and healthy environment for animals and surrounding neighbors. It is the actual wording of the codes that have come into question. Lindon City Code 6.08.010(4) states that animal premises shall be kept sanitary and shall not constitute a fly breeding reservoir, source of offensive odors or of human and animal disease.

This is the most supportive ordinance these neighbors can fall back on, as Cross has countless pictures of fly traps posted on their mutual fence collecting thousands and thousands of flies a week. Another ordinance states the necessity of caring for animals and that animal enclosures shall be properly cleaned of excretion and treated for elimination of flies.

Now the other side is involved. Someone sent an anonymous letter to hundreds of residents claiming Dain and the City council were going to take away animal rights. The letter, among other things blames a few new residents of Lindon for the sudden change of tone in the council, stating that they are loud and aggressive and that one man was visibly shaking in anger over the incident

It also states that various city council members are seriously discussing removing the rights to raise animals from Lindon residents. The letter further states that a few city council members seemed quite empathetic with the idea of restricting these rights within the community.

The letter draws references previous city council meetings, but inaccurately quotes Dain and implies actions of others that may or may not have occurred. While several of the city council members did refuse to take a side in this matter, Dain and Councilman Clay Walker were adamant that animal rights always have been and always will be a part of Lindon.

“You have to remember the mentality here too and why I grew up in this community six generations now,” Councilman Clay Walker said. “There were three things that were sacred in Lindon many years ago — horses, cows, and water.”

Dain repeated that while the animal ordinance may need to be clarified; animals were citizens of Lindon too.

Other members of the council simply reiterated that the ordinance needs to be clarified without stating whether they are for or against animal rights in Lindon.

“I don’t hear you coming with a solution that says that if these guys would clean once a week it would be OK,” Dain said. “You are saying if I smell it or see a fly it is not going to work for me.”

“The smell and the flies are an issue,” Cross said. “They need to be addressed.”

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