BERLIN - The town is finalizing an ordinance to dictate where and when dogs should be leashed, and is seeking residents’ input.
A public hearing on the proposed leash law has been set for Nov. 30 at 7 p.m.
“This has been discussed since 2008,” Town Manager Arosha Jayawickrema told the Herald over the phone Wednesday. “Every town should have an ordinance but we have not been able to get one together until now.”
Berlin’s Ordinance Committee drafted amendments to different sections of the Town Charter that govern animals, parks and open spaces.
The proposed leash law would allow dogs to roam the meadow area of Bicentennial Park leash-free, given their behavior is appropriate and their owners have the ability to get them under control when necessary. The ordinance also allows leashed dogs (10 ft. lead) to visit designated public properties which include the area of Bicentennial Park which is not part of the meadow, Community Playground, Demore, Dinda, Bittner Jr. Pool, The Grove, Hatchery Brook Hiking Trails, Heffernan Park, Kensington Orchards, Lamentation Mountain Open Space, Little People’s Playground, The Meetinghouse, Miccia Memorial Park, Murray Heights, Papergoods Pond, Petit Complex, Pistol Creek (with both sides of the street), Potter’s Field, Ragged Mountain Hiking Trails, Senior Center, Timberlin Golf Course, Town Hall Complex, Veteran’s Park, Volunteer Park, Webster Park, and Worthington Ridge Monument.
Currently dogs are not allowed on golf courses and athletic fields but there are no rules as to them being leashed in parks, etc.
“If this ordinance passes, for a six month period we are keeping the meadow in Bicentennial Park as a leash free area after which the town council will decide how to proceed,” Jayawickrema said.
This park is already frequented by dog owners in town. In fact, about 500 people signed a petition on change.org asking the town to keep Bicentennial Park completely exempt from the leash ordinance.
“Please, members of the Ordinance Committee and the Town council...hear the voices of your constituents and those voices of the others who use and support the use of this Federally Funded Park,” said Susan Kwasniewski, who wrote the petition. “Please vote to exempt Bicentennial Park from the new town wide leash ordinance. Thank you.”
The full version of the proposed ordinance can be found on the town’s website, berlinct.gov.
“The council, based on comments from the public can make revisions on it after the public hearing,” Town Attorney Jeffrey Donofrio said.
Erica Drzewiecki can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.