villageoffice2014_120There was resistance to an amendment to the Village of Lansing Firearm and Bow Safety law at a public hearing Monday, before Trustees passed the law.  Cayuga Heights Road resident Lowell Garner took issue with a change that reduces the distance hunters must remain from a residence from 500 feet to 150 feet.

"My house is nowhere near 150 feet from any of my property lines," Garner said.  "Yet I have full ability to walk my land, which means that hunters can be right at the property line and hunt legally.  The Village has solicited property owners near me for hunting.  150 feet doesn't work for me in terms of being able to have full use of my property, go where I want to go, walk in the woods with my dog or my granddaughter."

In the Village of Lansing discharging weapons of any kind is not permitted by default.  However, hunting with long bows or compound bows is permitted under strict conditions.  The Village does not regulate hunters, but that ability to hunt in the Village is quite restrictive.  What the Village can control is where hunting may occur and it sets rules for who may or may not hunt there.

"We can''t regulate hunting per se, because we're not the DEC," Leopold added.  "But we can regulate the discharge of firearms.  Our way of assuring that we know who is hunting in the Village is to have that person submit their hunting plan to us.  The plan has to include who is going to be hunting and when."

All landowners who want to permit hunting on their properties must coordinate with Village officials.  Most join the Village's official deer population management program, which is coordinated by Bernd Blossey.  Blossey vets each hunter in the program before allowing them to join the hunt on specified properties.  Landowners who do not want to be part of the Village hunt must still be willing to work with the Village and assure Village officials that any hunter they allow is qualified.  Again, only bow hunting is permitted.

"People need to be proficient, be licensed and know what they're doing," Deputy Mayor Lynn Leopold said.  "They must be willing to work with our Village.  It's not about having 'buck fever'.  It's about trying to reduce our deer herd."

"The proposed local law has three components," said Village Attorney David Dubow.  "One is the 150 foot setback, having gone from 500.  The second is that we have tried to clarify the law regarding the annual agreements the Village enters into with various property owners.  Instead of having to execute them every year either party has the right to terminate them.  If they don't the agreements would continue.  The third was to change what we have referenced as a longbow to what is now a standard compound bow."

Garner pointed out that Village law is already more restrictive than DEC regulations because while the state allows crossbow hunting, the Village does not.  He argued for a compromise of some setback requirement between 150 and 500 feet.

"I consider your concerns important because we want people to feel safe," Leopold told Garner.  "If the way the hunt is overseen is preventing you from using your property, then we need to address that.  The 150foot rule allows us to use more properties that have not been available to us, but within reason."

Deborah Dawson noted that Trustees should also restrict hunters from shooting across roadways.

Phil Dankert asked whether hunting will be permitted on a large parcel of Village property north of Dart Drive.  Dankert said he has concerns about raising the setback distance unless large parcels like that are included in the deer population management hunt.

Leopold said that the property is not currently being included in the hunt, but it is under discussion.

Dubow said that another public hearing would be necessary if a significant change to the proposed amendment were put forward.  he was unclear as to whether a compromise of 250 feet would constitute a significant change, but Trustees wanted to pass the law as-is because a change would mean having to solicit agreements with landowners all over again, and because hunting season is approaching.

"Let's leave it alone," said Trustee John O'Neill.  "We can talk to Lynn and Bernd to agree with an exception where necessary."

The law was passed unanimously, 4-0 (Mayor Donal Hartill was not present).