2018-03-23 / Front Page

Cape to look at dog ordinance

By Ben Meiklejohn
Contributing Writer


Harper, 2, caught snowballs Tuesday, March 20 on property in Cape Elizabeth known as “Town Farm.” Her owner, a South Portland resident, didn’t want to be named. (Garrick Hoffman photo) Harper, 2, caught snowballs Tuesday, March 20 on property in Cape Elizabeth known as “Town Farm.” Her owner, a South Portland resident, didn’t want to be named. (Garrick Hoffman photo) CAPE ELIZABETH – The conservation committee is reviewing the town’s dog ordinances and will recommend changes to the town council. The council charged the committee at its March 12 meeting to review the ordinances, which have not been amended since 1990, according to Town Manager Matthew Sturgis.

“There have been problems with people not picking up after their dogs at Fort Williams and we have had issues with unleashed dogs attacking other dogs and sometimes people,” said Town Council Chairman Jessica Sullivan.

“The other issue is dogs being allowed to run on athletic fields near unleashed areas,” she added. “That’s been a problem. They shouldn’t be allowed in athletic fields any time of year.”

The council voted on Jan. 8 to prohibit dogs from the athletic field at Fort Williams Park from April 1 to Nov. 1.

Sturgis said since the ordinances were last amended in 1990, the town has acquired additional properties that aren’t referenced in the ordinance.

“It’s kind of a gray area and it’s given us trouble with enforcement,” Sturgis said. “We want to be clear (on what the rules are). If you look at the ordinance, it talks about areas being groomed or maintained, but we also have some wild areas that aren’t defined.”

Sturgis said while most public areas require a dog to be leashed, there is a portion of Fort Williams Park, areas of Gull Crest and a parcel of land across from the public works facility called Poor Farm, where dogs are allowed to be unleashed, as long as the dogs are responsive to voice commands.

Sullivan said she hasn’t heard much input from dog owners recently but knows many of them want to make sure the unleashed area of Fort Williams Park remains.

The increasing use of Fort Williams Park however, is causing there to be greater concern about how the dogs are interacting with people, she said.

Sturgis said he believes the conservation committee will do a good job taking into account the concerns of all sides, including dog owners.

“The conservation committee has a good rapport with dog aficionados,” he said. “They’ll be able to get all the different perspectives included.”

Both Sullivan and Sturgis said there have been no discussions among town officials about creating a designated enclosed dog park.

Town Planner Maureen Maureen O’Meara said due to weather related meeting cancellations, the council is not expected to review ordinance recommendations from the conservation committee until April 10 or May 8.

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