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Wright v. City of Bearden

Court of Appeals of Arkansas, Division IV

October 18, 2017

RAYFORD WRIGHT APPELLANT
v.
CITY OF BEARDEN APPELLEE

         APPEAL FROM THE OUACHITA COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO. 52CV-14-32] HONORABLE DAVID F. GUTHRIE, JUDGE

          Rayford Wright, pro se appellant.

          Wynne Law Firm, by: Tom Wynne, for appellee.

          LARRY D. VAUGHT, JUDGE.

         Rayford Wright appeals the judgment entered by the Ouachita County Circuit Court on September 30, 2016. The judgment found that Wright had violated the City of Bearden's Ordinance No. 115 and fined him $970 plus $25 court costs. The court further found that it could not rule on Wright's argument that the ordinance was unconstitutional because he did not plead or raise it before the municipal court.[1] On appeal, Wright argues that Ordinance No. 115 "does not withstand constitutional law." We hold that the circuit court clearly erred in finding that it could not rule on Wright's constitutional argument because it was not pled or raised before the municipal court. Accordingly, we reverse and remand.

         At issue in this case is the City of Bearden Ordinance No. 115, which provides:

AN ORDINANCE TO REGULATE THE KEEPING OF HORSES, GOATS, COWS, & HOGS WITHIN THE CITY LIMITS OF BEARDEN, ARKANSAS; DECLARING AN EMERGENCY; AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES.
WHEREAS, the maintenance of Horse Lots, Goats, Cows, and Hogs within the City Limits of Bearden, Arkansas is a nuisance and a menace to health, unless sanitary regulations are practiced, and
WHEREAS, in some instances such animals are maintained at places within the City of Bearden, Arkansas, so as to destroy the peace, comfort and health of some of the Citizens, now
THEREFORE, Be It Ordained by the City Council of Bearden, Arkansas:
SECTION 1. On and after the effective date of this ordinance, no Horse Lot, Horse, Goat, or Goats, Goat Pens, Cows, Cow or Cow Lot, Hog or Hogs, or Hog Pen, shall be maintained within the City Limits of Bearden, if located within 300 Feet of any residence or Home.
SECTION 2. Provided, however, that such animals, or enclosures for such animals, may be maintained within 300 feet of any residents or residences, only if and when, the person, firm or corporation desiring to maintain such animals or lots therefor within 300 feet of a residence or residents, shall obtain in writing the consent of the occupants and owners of the resident or residences that are situated within 300 feet of the place where such animals or lots are to be maintained. . . .

Bearden, Ark, Ordinance 115 (May 7, 1957).

         On June 12, 2013, the Mayor of Bearden, Bill Farmer, wrote a letter to Wright advising that at a June 10, 2013 city council meeting one of Wright's neighbors (Sharon Garlington) complained about his horses. In this letter, Mayor Farmer cited Ordinance No. 115 and ...


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