Dogs play together at Willard Beach in South Portland this month. Shawn Patrick Ouellette / Portland Press Herald

The South Portland Town Council proposed another amendment Tuesday to leash laws in the city, one in a string of amendments that have been up for vote since August.

If passed Nov. 4, owners would be required to have their dogs on leash from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. from Oct. 1 to April 30 at Hinckley Park and Willard Beach. At all other times during those dates, the dogs may run freely while under voice control.

Public comments were significantly fewer Oct. 26 than at recent meetings that had up to four hours of debate. Both residents and council members appear ready to move past the amendment stage and let the newly formed Dogs & Sharing of Public Spaces Committee get to work on permanent solutions.

Mayor Misha Pride said he was “suffering from burnout” on the issue.

“I’m tired of talking about dogs,” he said.

Past proposals included on-leash hours of 7 a.m. to noon at Hinckley and noon to 5 p.m. at Willard; on-leash requirements taking place every-other day; and one amendment that some deemed “un-neighborly” because it would have required nonresidents to have their dogs leashed at all times.

A number of councilors were reluctant to make yet another change, prolonging the eventual passing of the ordinance and sparking more public debate. However, after hearing Tuesday from some residents who wanted afternoon off-leash hours at the beach, they decided to amend the hours.

Councilor Susan Henderson agreed with the residents, saying with less daylight during the winter, ice can pose a hazard to dogs and walkers by 5 p.m.

While Henderson originally proposed to change the on-leash hours from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Councilor Jocelyn Leighton proposed that dogs remain on-leash at both locations from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

While there have been questions posed to Parks and Rec Director Karl Coughlin and Park Ranger Kristina Ertzner about the enforceability of proposed amendments at past meetings, they appeared ready Tuesday to move on as well.

“I’m kind of looking to you guys to tell us what do,” Ertzner said.

“We’re game for whatever hand we’re dealt,” Coughlin said.

All council members expressed their thanks for the emails, phone calls and public comments at meetings in recent months.

“I hope that all of the people who have made so many good comments … will continue to give feedback to the committee,” Henderson said.

Councilors said the latest proposed amendments sets up the Dogs & Sharing of Public Spaces Committee for success.

“I’m glad we have the committee coming up,” said Councilor April Carrichio. “I think it’s well worth it to just stop here, where we are, so we can get that committee together, doing what they need to do … I think we did as well as we can.”

The council is expected to soon make appointments to the committee, which will include two members of the South Portland Dog Owner’s Group, and two residents who have been opposed to dogs being off-leash.

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