A dog and its walkers at Fort Williams Park in Cape Elizabeth, where the Town Council next month will decide whether to tighten rules governing where dogs are allowed. Jenny Ibsen / For The Forecaster

CAPE ELIZABETH — Residents expressed concern about proposed tighter dog regulations during a Town Council public hearing Monday.

Town Manager Matt Sturgis also reported that the Assessing Department has set the fiscal year 2020 tax rate at $19.68 per $1,000 of assessed value, which is 8 cents less than anticipated when the budget was approved.

Sturgis on Wednesday said the reduction was possible because the town’s valuation was greater than anticipated due to new construction added to the tax rolls, along with an increase in revenue sharing from the state.

The dog ordinance discussion centered on whether to ban all dogs, leashed or unleashed, on town athletic fields at any time during the year.

Councilors did not express either support for or opposition to the proposed ban.

Draft updates to the ordinance categorize town properties by levels of dog management: Category 1 does not allow dogs, Category 2 allows only leashed dogs, and Category 3 allows dogs on leash or under voice control. Athletic fields would be included under Category 1 regulations.

At the Aug. 12 hearing, dog owner Roger Caouette said he is frustrated because the town’s restrictions have been tightening over time.

Councilor Valerie Randall noted that many spaces would become more dog-friendly with new classification as Category 3. However, the multi-purpose field at Fort Williams, which now allows dogs during the off-season, would change to never permit dogs.

Roger Rioux, another dog owner, agreed that dogs on athletic fields present a health risk for children and could damage the fields. He said he supports preserving an off-leash area at Fort Williams Park or perhaps elsewhere that would allow dogs to roam.

Chairman James Garvin noted that six to eight emails directed to the council expressed opinions “with the same kind of passion” that aligned with sentiments both for and against dog regulation.

Residents will have the opportunity to speak on the topic during public comment before the council votes at its Sept. 9 meeting.

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