COLE BROS.: Plymouth Town Meeting bans, Kiwanis seeks to reverse
The ink hasn't dried on the town's new regulation prohibiting the display of exotic animals at traveling circuses, and there is word of an effort by the Plymouth Kiwanis to have its language deleted from Plymouth's bylaws.
By Frank Mand--Old Colony Memorial
Jun. 25, 2014
PLYMOUTH – The ink hasn’t dried on the town’s new regulation prohibiting the display of exotic animals at traveling circuses, and there is word of an effort by the Plymouth Kiwanis to have its language deleted from Plymouth’s bylaws.
April 5, after a yearlong effort that began in 2013, the exotic animal bylaw – effectively banning circuses that display elephants, tigers, lions and the like – was approved by Town Meeting.
The assumption at the time was that the Cole Bros. circus, which had been a regular visitor to Plymouth for many years, would not be able to bring its tigers and elephants back to America’s Hometown.
But just weeks ago many residents were surprised to see signs going up around town announcing the circus’ return June 17 and 18.
Residents assumed that the local branch of Kiwanis, which had sponsored the circus in the past, had already made a commitment to this year’s show. But the official record suggests the Kiwanis group did not request the permit for the event until April 22, two weeks after Town Meeting voted.
Cole Bros. could still have chosen to cancel its appearance, but the regulation – though passed by Town Meeting April 5 – technically did not prohibit Cole’s from bringing its big top to town until the Attorney General’s Office had officially approved the bylaw change and the town had publicly posted that decision.
That, as it turns out, takes a while.
For bylaw changes made at Town Meeting, the process is as follows:
· First, Town Meeting votes to approve (April 5).
· Ten days after that the town – if it’s ready – can submit a packet containing the bylaw and additional documents verifying that the meeting was properly conducted. The town can take up to 30 days to prepare that packet. (Plymouth sent that packet April 18.)
· Once the Attorney General’s Office has the packet of information, it has a maximum of 90 days to verify the bylaw is constitutional and does not conflict with other regulations in or out of town. (In this case, the AGO has until July 17).
Town Clerk Laurence Pizer offers the example of a bylaw that had been proposed regarding boating on Great Herring Pond. Though approved at Plymouth Town Meeting it was later deemed unconstitutional because part of the pond is in another town.
· If the AGO believes additional research is necessary that office can extend the 90-day review period.
· Once the AGO approves the bylaw and it is posted at Town Hall, it becomes official.
According to Pizer the expectation is that the AGO’s approval will happen no later than July 17. But how long the bylaw will be in effect is now in question.