COPPERAS COVE — Residents filled a five-person committee on Saturday to start a referendum petition to repeal a recent change to the animal control ordinance that makes it illegal to trap and feed feral cats. The committee hopes to start petitioning soon.
“We are supposed to set up a meeting with the city secretary today or tomorrow, so we can find out what all we need,” said Patrica Gomez, who was appointed to the committee.
After that meeting, the group will find out when the petition process will officially start. And it will begin soliciting signatures from fellow residents to repeal the amendment.
The new law will fine those who tend to the animals, which some groups do as a way to spay and neuter the cats. It defines feral cats as a wild, untamed or unsocialized feline. A domestic cat is now defined as one that does not show long-term fear and resistance to contact with humans.
According to the city charter, once the petition process starts, the committee and its supporters will have 45 days to garner 2.5 percent of the number of voters who participated in the city’s last election.
According to Justin Carothers, Coryell County’s election official, there were 8,214 voters from Copperas Cove in November 2012.
Petitioners will need 206 signatures from registered voters.
The meeting with the city secretary will hopefully ensure the committee has the correct information for the petition process, Gomez said.
“We want to make sure we are following the rules by the charter and everything,” she said.
If the group gets the correct number of signatures, it will force the City Council to reconsider the ordinance. If the governing body doesn’t repeal the ordinance, the city must hold a public election on the issue. Creating the committee was the first part of the process. About 20 residents attended Saturday’s meeting, and the group has started a Facebook page. It received more than 100 “Likes” since Saturday, Gomez said, adding that is an encouraging sign that there will be more than enough signatures. After the petition is filed, the group members said they will continue soliciting to get fellow residents to vote for the measure because the coucnil will not change its decision on the ordinance.
The earliest an election can take place is next year. The deadline for submitting new items to the Nov. 5 ballot has passed. In the meantime, however, the group will be vocalizing the issue. “As long as we are willing to be out there talking and hold some events, we will find ways to make sure it is out there,” Gomez said.