The Scarborough Town Council has scheduled a citizen-initiated referendum for Dec. 3 to reconsider a controversial new townwide, year-round leash law.

The council passed the ordinance Oct. 2 in response to the killing of a federally protected piping plover by an unleashed dog on Pine Point Beach in July.

The council had to call the special election because a group of residents gathered 2,379 signatures – 25 percent of the number of Scarborough voters who cast ballots in the last gubernatorial election.

The council approved the sweeping new ordinance in a surprise vote that went well beyond a proposal that had been negotiated with federal wildlife officials. The proposal would have tightened the town’s existing leash laws, which applied only to beaches during summer, when the birds are present.

The new law requires all dogs to be leashed at all times on all town properties, including beaches, parks, streets and sidewalks. Dogs are allowed to run unleashed only in designated public areas, such as dog parks. However, the town has no dog parks, and many people rely on beaches for recreation with their pets.

Town officials have delayed putting the law into effect until the referendum process has run its course.

Voting will be held in the Town Council Chambers at the Scarborough Municipal Building, at 259 Route 1. To vote in advance, any registered voter may request an absentee ballot by calling the town’s clerk’s office at 730-4020 or by mailing in an application that can be downloaded from the town’s website.

A sample ballot and other information about the leash law is on the website’s homepage.

Kelley Bouchard can be contacted at 791-6328 or at:

kbouchard@pressherald.com