Town closing in on leash law compromise

KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTO | Restricting the dates and hours dogs are permitted on Southold  beaches is a sticking point for a policy attempting to reach a compromise on the controversial issue.

Comprise seemed hard to come by regarding Southold Town’s efforts to update its dog leash law, but officials took another stab at it during Thursday’s code committee meeting.

This time they may have succeeded.

After a 20-minute discussion, officials suggested easing the law that currently prohibits dogs on town-owned beaches at all times. One alternative would ban dogs from town-owned beaches from May 1 to October 1 between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. A second proposal would shorten that period to begin on Memorial Day and run through Labor Day from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Under both proposals dogs would be allowed to run free on town beaches during the off-season.

The code committee includes only a few Town Board members. The group instructed Town Attorney Martin Finnegan to draw up a draft of the changes to to present to the full board. Supervisor Scott Russell said he favors keeping dogs off the beach past the traditional end of summer.

“We are still an active community after Labor Day so I would want to defer to the board on that,” he said.

The town would continue to restrict dogs and other domestic animals in recreation areas, picnic areas, children’s play areas and athletic fields where signs are posted saying no dogs are allowed. Exemptions would be made for hunting and service dogs.

Once a new policy is in place the board will work with the chief of police and bay constables to develop methods of enforcing the code, the supervisor said.

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