The Mansfield Town Council amended an existing ordinance and enacted a new one while most University of Connecticut students were off campus during the winter recess.
The ordinances – one to allow alcohol consumption at four designated public spaces in Mansfield during events and another to control dog waste on public property – were subjected to vigorous debate from council members at their Jan. 11 meeting.
Council members passed new provisions to the town’s alcohol consumption ordinance that will allow residents to drink at public and private events held in Storrs Center, the Mansfield Community Center, the Audrey Beck Municipal Building and the Mansfield Public Library.
Before the passage of this amendment, drinking was not permitted on any public property in Mansfield. Now, events hosted by the town or private organizations, including those at UConn, will be able to allow alcohol consumption.
“I fully support of-age UConn students who wish to host an event and want to consume alcohol,” Republican council member Mark Sargent said. “If they’re legally able to consume alcohol and it’s in a safe environment the institution allows them to use, why not be able to do it?”
Sargent, who served as the president of the Undergraduate Student Government at UConn last year, proposed an amendment to the proposal that would allow private groups to host events with alcohol consumption. He said Republicans were aware of groups in town that had already been consuming alcohol in the past – in violation of the ordinance.
The amendment to the proposal passed on a 6-2 vote, with Mayor Paul Shapiro and Deputy Mayor Bill Ryan voting against it. Council member Ben Shaiken was absent.
The council unanimously adopted an amendment to include the Mansfield Community Center as one of the locations permitting alcohol consumption.
“I don’t know too many UConn students who are hanging out at the public library or the community center,” Sargent said. “Storrs Center – there may be some events where that happens. But I think starting to build the relationship and having a community that can have responsible drinking is important.”
While the amendment to the existing alcohol consumption ordinance passed unanimously, the new dog waste control ordinance was approved by narrower margin.
Under the new ordinance approved, any dog owner will now be required to clean up his or her dog’s feces if the animal defecates on public property in the town. Anyone found not cleaning up the mess faces a $50 fine.
Members of the council revised the original wording of the ordinance before passage, removing a provision to fine dog owners who did not clean up feces on private property.
The ordinance does provide one exemption to the clean-up requirement – blind or impaired owners using guide dogs are not required to clean up the waste.
Voting on the ordinance broke down along party lines, with the six Democrats in favor and the three Republicans opposed. Sargent said the Republicans opposed the ordinance because they believed the ordinance was unenforceable. However, they were glad to see the private property provision removed.
Council members had originally been scheduled to meet twice during the winter recess, but canceled the Dec. 28 meeting due to several members being out of town.
Kyle Constable is a senior staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.