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deer_fawn120The Village of Lansing amended two laws Monday that will impact residents' lawns in very different ways.  Local Law 5 of 2010 sets standards for maintaining ground cover on properties in the Village, and Local Law 6 revises a law that pertains to bow hunting.

"It arose as a result of a question (Trustee Lynn Leopold) raised six weeks ago as to our local law that was amended a number of years ago to broaden and clarify some of the restrictions, one of which was that bow hunting is prohibited within 500 feet of a dwelling house," explains Village Attorney David Dubow.  "It didn't have any exceptions.  The State regulations have that same 500 foot setback requirement, but do provide for certain exceptions."

Village law prohibits hunting or the discharge of firearms of any kind.  The bow hunting law is the one exception that Trustees voted to allow, largely motivated by problems caused by a deer population that is too big for the area.  In 2007 Village officials decided to initiate a deer control program that would enable bow hunters to hunt within the Village under strict requirements.  To do that they modified Village law to allow bow hunting on the few Village properties large enough to comply with DEC rules. 

The law says that 1) hunting is forbidden anywhere in the village unless a landowner is authorized to grant permission to hunt on land that meets the '500 rule'  2) Landowners must be authorized by the Village to allow hunting, 3) Only hunters explicitly invited by a landowner may hunt, and 4) Additional deer management tags are obtained through the village .

The new amendment adjusts the law to allow landowners to hunt inside the 500 foot limit on their own property, and to designate hunters who have permission to do so.  Property owners with small lots could join with their neighbors to create new areas in the Village where a bow hunt could take place if all the landowners grant permission to the same hunters.  That could expand the number of properties on which the Village deer program hunts can take place, making the program more effective in actually controlling the local deer population.

Local Law 5  clarifies ground cover requirements in two sections of Village law.  The first has to do with ground cover and its role in preventing soil erosion and sediment control, as well as keeping Village neighborhoods well-kept.  The second modifies the zoning law to set out how grass and natural areas on properties must be maintained.

"It largely comes up in the context of new developments," said Village Attorney David Dubow.  "In general the ground cover requirements cover existing conditions and any new property that's being developed.  In addition there is the property maintenance code that the Code Enforcement Officer can enforce if the premises are not properly kept.  Often that is used if someone doesn't mow their lawn for an entire summer, or has an unseemly situation within their yard."

"It's relatively simple," said Village Attorney David Dubow.  "It's largely for clarity and elaboration purposes in terms of providing a little bit more guidance with respect to ground cover requirements."

The Tompkins County Planning Department's review determined the law might have a negative impact on inter-community law.  Trustees felt that the response was confusing, and that County planners may not have reviewed the proposed law carefully.  But with that dissent the law requires a quorum plus one vote.  With four of the five Trustees present that meant that all four would have to approve the amendments in order for them to become law. 

The board unanimously voted to approve both laws.

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