Cape Elizabeth council to consider open space rules

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CAPE ELIZABETH — Among other things in a May 14 meeting, town councilors and the public will talk about how the town should regulate open space.

The municipal and school budgets are scheduled for a council vote in the meeting, and the long-term plans for Fort Williams will be discussed at a public hearing. The public will also learn details of a proposed conservation ordinance chapter for managing open space and Greenbelt trails.

The hearing will cover amendments to the ordinance that set hours of operation, group use policies and define hunting and trapping policies on the town-owned lands.

The proposed ordinance chapter encompasses about 900 acres, but exempts Fort Williams, the school campus, town athletic fields and Riverside Memorial Cemetery from the land and trail use rules.

Visitors will be asked to “limit activities to the quiet enjoyment” of trails and open spaces between sunset and sunrise, and the ordinance also limits snowmobile use from sunrise to 8 p.m.

Snowmobiles will be the only motorized vehicles permitted on open space lands, excluding emergency vehicles and maintenance vehicles authorized by the town.

Some hunting is permitted on the lands due to overriding state laws, but hunters looking to build tree stands will need permission from the town. Trappers will be allowed to use “cage-type live traps and drowning sets” as defined by state law.

The proposed ordinance comes after more than two years of work by the Open Space and Greenbelt Management committee. Consisting of seven Conservation Committee members, Town Planner Maureen O’Meara and with Councilor Jessica Sullivan acting as a liaison, the committee took stock and mapped all town-owned open spaces before drafting the ordinance.

The open space ordinance amendment adopts group use policies already in place at Fort Williams Park while putting the town manager in charge of making many of the decisions about land use.

Those decisions include temporarily closing trails, contacting parties who may be encroaching on open spaces or trails and granting permission for building tree stands or setting traps.

David Harry can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or dharry@theforecaster.net. Follow David on Twitter: @DavidHarry8.

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Portland City Hall reporter for The Forecaster. Baltimore native, lived in Maine since 1989. A journalist since 2005, covering much of Cumberland and York counties. I joined The Forecaster in 2012.