CAPE ELIZABETH — The Cape Elizabeth Land Trust is considering changing the leash rule in Robinson Woods after dog walkers complained about recently-enacted restrictions.
The rule was revised last December to limit off-leash time to mornings. But after receiving negative feedback, CELT will discuss also allowing dogs off leash during evenings.
CELT directors will discuss the change and other restrictions on March 30.
“The proposal provides a path for (CELT and the public) to work together and change the culture around responsible use of the property,” CELT Executive Director Christopher Franklin said.
The proposal is to allow dogs off-leash from sunrise to 10 a.m. on the 63-acre Robinson Woods II land parcel, and after 4 p.m. on 79-acre Robinson Woods I.
A prior proposal considered at the beginning of March was to revise the rule for Robinson Woods I, while banning off-leash dogs at Robinson Woods II.
Franklin said that proposal was further revised so that each section of the woods would have different restrictions at different times. He said CELT leaders don’t want there to be any time of day where off-leash dogs are allowed everywhere.
The existing rule allows dogs to be off-leash from sunrise to 9 a.m. in Robinson Woods I, but Franklin said many dog owners find this too restrictive. At two meetings in January to discuss leash laws with the public, Franklin said many people were upset with the limitations.
“One of the things we heard loud and clear was that afternoon hours were important,” he said.
Franklin said there have also been many people who have praised the new restrictions.
“The feedback has not been one-sided,” he said. “I’ve had an equal number of people who have liked the new restrictions.”
In December, when the initial change was made, Franklin said safety was the main concern. He said there were multiple reports of people being chased, bitten, and harassed by off-leash dogs.
“There’s a large number of residents who are fed up with being run at and jumped on by off-leash dogs and being intimidated, and that’s our No. 1 concern,” Franklin said.
Franklin said while many people who walk their dogs in Robinson Woods are responsible, there are some who don’t have control over their dogs. He said there are others who don’t clean up after their dogs and leave waste on the trails.
“Off-leash use has the good and the bad,” he said.
Franklin said he knows most people and their dogs are respectful while on the property, but to make sure everyone feels safe, the rules must be in place. He said he hopes the proposed update will help strike more of a balance.