- Associated Press - Sunday, January 19, 2014

COTTONWOOD HEIGHTS, Utah (AP) - A snake collector has moved out of a suburb of Salt Lake City with his more than 25 boa constrictors, citing harassment from neighbors.

Thomas Cobb told The Salt Lake Tribune (http://bit.ly/1cJd5Aw ) that life has been less stressful since he, his family and snakes moved out of Cottonwood Heights. He declined to say where he now lives, citing privacy concerns.

“I left because of the harassment, the scrutiny, the threats,” Cobb said. “People of influence made minimal effort to protect my family from individuals that were forcing their opinion upon us, judging us for something they don’t understand.”

Last year, a group of neighbors complained about Cobb’s snake collection and pushed for an ordinance restricting homeowners to one exotic pet.

The Cottonwood Heights City Council is scheduled to vote Jan. 28 on a proposal to limit homeowners to five exotic pets without a permit and up to 25 with a permit.

Mayor Kelvyn Cullimore Jr. said he disagrees with the restrictions, but he is willing to pass the ordinance in deference to residents’ concerns.

“My personal opinion is I think we’re overreaching. We’re overreaching into people’s private lives as government because we’ve got some people who are being irrational about their fear of snakes,” Cullimore told The Tribune.

Neighbors’ complaints have ranged from health and safety to decreasing property values.

Cobb maintains his boas are safely maintained in separate enclosures inside his home and endanger no one. He said he has a right to pursue happiness as long as it has no effect on anyone else.

“I’m a law-abiding citizen,” he said. “I’m not going to break the law because I want to do something. I’ll go to someplace where I can do what I was doing without being judged.”

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Information from: The Salt Lake Tribune, http://www.sltrib.com

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