2017-02-24 / Community

Parks ordinance ready for vote

By Wm. Duke Harrington Staff Writer

After more than seven months of debate, Kennebunk selectmen have agreed on the final wording of a new parks ordinance, voting at their Feb. 14 session to put it before voters at the annual town meeting on June 13.

The board also voted unanimously to endorse passage of the ordinance, which includes a ban on tobacco products and use of electronic cigarettes, as well as rules controlling the use of aerial drones, in 19 parks and three public beaches in town.

Originally submitted by former town manager Barry Tibbetts in July 2017, who said at the time it was mostly a means of compiling all existing parks rules in one place for easy reference, it was Tibbetts who, at the first reading of the proposal, suggested adding a ban on drone use. Selectmen seemed pretty solidly behind that idea from the start, but the idea required research into what authority the town has, and which aspects of drone use fall under the purview of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

As finally drafted, the proposed ordinance bans drone use “without the authorization of the parks and recreation director,” or a designee. However, in addition to use with permission, the ordinance also leaves open the possibility of selectmen adopting a policy for use at designated times and places.

According to Town Manager Mike Pardue, creating those future rules as a matter of written policy makes it easier for selectmen to adjust on the fly to what works and what does not, without the need to call a new town meeting for each subsequent amendment, as would be the case if the rules were written into the language of the ordinance.

In addition to the ban on smoking products, the proposed ordinance also formally outlaws littering, graffiti, cutting of trees and shrubs including downed limbs, hunting, camping and open fires.

The ordinance also would require all dogs and cats to be leashed when in the parks, or on the beaches, unless “under voice control at all times.”

Dog owners also will want to have a pooper scooper handy as it will be illegal to leave any dog waste behind.

Also on the ban list is all advertising and selling, as well as the presence or use of “weapons of any kind,” and sound amplification done “in a manner which may reasonably be expected to annoy other persons in the parks,” without prior approval of the parks and recreation director.

The ordinance also contains a host of traffic and parking rules, enforced at the discretion of the parks director, who also will have the ability to “issue such [additional] rules and regulations as are necessary to insure [sic] public health and safety in the use and enjoyment of any and all parks facilities.”

Staff Writer Duke Harrington can be reached at news@kennebunkpost.com.

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