Editor’s note: Answer Line is on assignment this week. Look for more questions and answers to return soon. In the meantime, enjoy this best-of column:
QUESTION: I travel north on Airline Road several times each week to the Judson post office. Because there is now a detour at the intersection of Pliler-Precise Road, traffic is diverted west toward Judson Road.
About 10 days ago, I first noted a large German shepherd that apparently had been struck by a car and killed, about 50 feet west of the intersection. I contacted the city of Longview, but was told there was nothing city staff members could do because it was outside of the city limits. A few days later, I contacted Gregg County Pct. 1, and a man who answered the phone said they would check on it.
As I write to you a week later, the skeleton, head, skin and lots of worms are still there. Can you tell me the proper agency to call in the future, should I encounter such a situation?
ANSWER: So, a broad answer first: the correct agency does depend on where you are. If you’re on a state-maintained highway, you could report it to the Texas Department of Transportation. You can find phone numbers for district offices at www.txdot.gov/inside-txdot/district.html.
Inside the city limits of Longview, the sanitation division responds to dead animal calls. Call that office at (903) 237-1250 or use the mobile or online CitySend app. (That’s how it’s handled in Longview, by the way. I expect it’s different from city to city.)
If you’re outside the city and not on a state-maintained highway, the county handles dead animal calls. I gather that process differs from county to county, but in Gregg County, you did the right thing. You found the appropriate county commissioner’s office and called.
I checked with Pct. 1 Commissioner Ronnie McKinney. He did some checking and apologized after discovering his office did make a mistake on this one. He made sure the animal’s remains were removed.
Q: Is it animal abuse to kill a snake?
A: State law doesn’t define it as such, but depending on why you’re killing the snake, it could get you in trouble.
I turned to Gregg County Game Warden Todd Long to help me navigate state laws that do prohibit killing snakes in certain situations. While there is room for interpretation from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, here are the basics:
Generally speaking, if you kill a snake because you’re trying to protect yourself, your family, your animals or your property, you won’t get in trouble.
However, you must have a hunting license if you’re actively going into swamps or rivers, for instance, and hunting or collecting snakes. You’ll be in even more trouble, criminally, if you hunt and kill a timber rattler — a threatened species.
Q: I’ve noticed a lot of retail stores around town that have huge parking lots, so large that they’re never even begun to be filled. What is requiring these large lots?
A: The city’s zoning ordinance spells out parking requirements depending on a building’s use and size. A building dedicated to general retail use generally must have one parking space for each 200 feet of gross floor area, although there are other requirements in the ordinance that could affect the total number of parking spaces.