Pick up or pay up.
Those are the basics of a proposed law in North Hills that will require residents to "promptly" clean up after dogs -- even if the mess is on the pet owner's own property -- by putting the droppings in a sealed, plastic bag and disposing of it in a covered trash bin.
The proposed cleanup law developed after a dispute between residents in one of the village's 29 communities, Mayor Marvin Natiss said. A homeowner had complained that the droppings of a neighbor's dog were not cleaned up quickly. Natiss did not identify either homeowner.
"There was a family that wasn't picking up. A neighbor complained," Natiss said, adding that the concerned neighbor was worried rain could spread the droppings.
Because of that dispute, Natiss said, the code change requiring prompt pickup on "any property" in the village of 5,000 residents, means even in the pet owner's own yard.
The village board of trustees will hold a hearing on the proposal Wednesday. Fines for not picking up would be $50 for the first offense, $100 for the second, and $200 for the third, Natiss said.
The North Hills law is designed to mirror North Hempstead Town's animal nuisance provisions, Natiss said, but neither the town code, nor those in other villages, include specific provisions for owners to clean up after dogs on their own properties.
Other sanitation codes may apply, including one that requires properties to be kept free from "unsanitary conditions," town spokeswoman Carole Trottere said.
Concerns about pet waste have heightened in other Gold Coast villages from time to time.
In Port Washington North, street signs and newsletters remind the 3,100 residents to be friendly neighbors.
"There are people whose homes are near bus stops and these kids are . . . walking into this stuff," Mayor Bob Weitzner said of dog waste.
Animal advocates agree that pet owners should clean up after their dogs, but said the North Hills interpretation may go too far.
"I think it is an intrusion . . . on the rights of private individuals," said Beverly Poppell, past chairwoman of the state bar association's committee on animal law and the acting president of the Wantagh-based nonprofit Pet Safe Coalition.
"Droppings on private property may or may not have to be picked up immediately -- that depends on whether such droppings are a nuisance or a health code violation. It depends on the situation case by case," she said.
Natiss acknowledged property rights, but said "when a condition affects the health or welfare of the adjoining property owner, we think it's important to enforce the regulation."
Bob Sowers, a detective with the Nassau County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, supports cleaning up pet waste on a regular basis to keep "a sanitary environment for your own pet," but questioned how the law would be enforced on private property.
"Someone can take a photograph, or someone can call Village Hall and we can send somebody over," Natiss said of reporting and enforcement efforts. "We think it's important that we have it [the law]. How we enforce it will be something we'll cross as we go forward."