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Hunting concerns tables resolution

CAROGA — Due to rising issues with a proposed local law for the Wheelerville Bike Trail, it was tabled until the town’s meeting in November.

The Caroga Town Board held a public hear on Wednesday during its regular meeting on the proposed local law that would prohibit motorized vehicles on the Wheelerville Bike Trail and to create penalties for violation of the law, however, concerns on hunting season and snowmobiling were raised to the board.

The issue brought to the board’s attention, was the assumption that the trails would be closed during hunting season to allow for safe hunting, and some residents suggested if the trails stay open during hunting season to find a “happy medium” and have people utilizing the trails wear bright colored clothing or wear an orange vest.

Hunting season for the muzzle loader starts on Saturday and ends on Oct. 23. The regular season starts on Oct. 24 and goes through to Dec. 6.

“I’m very interested in the hunting aspect and the dual issues,” said Supervisor Scott Horton. “I’m worried about the safety as a hunter myself. There’s a lot of hunting activities many times a year, but I believe the most concern is about deer hunting.”

Nick Stoner Trailers Snow Mobile Club member Craig Ivancic also brought up how the proposed local law also affects the snowmobile club.

“The club officers and board [need to] address [the] concern that if the bike trail law is implemented, that there is no language that will exempt existing snowmobile trails on town property from being designated as a bike trail,” Ivancic said. “Our concern is that the bike trail law could be used in the future to prevent motorized use on existing established snowmobile trails. The club is requesting the existing trails be grandfathered as multi-use trails and be exempt as be a bike trail. Existing trails can’t be bike-only.”

Horton said the board would address their concerns to ensure the bike trail will not interfere with existing snowmobile trails or future trails.

Councilman Richard Sturgess questioned the reasoning for the law, since there aren’t any trespassing issues or property damage issues within the town, and who is going to enforce the law.

“The reason for this law is to stop people from trespassing on this bike trail,” Horton said. “It’s not an issue now [and] I don’t want the issue in the future.”

“As far as enforcement goes, once there is a law on the books, then [the] Fulton County Sheriff’s [Office] must respond. They can’t respond unless there is a law,” said Councilman James Long. “There’s a lot of good issues raised about snowmobiles and about hunting, but I think it’s important to get this law in the books because we are very vulnerable right now — if anyone wants to, they can ride any sort of vehicle on this and do all sorts of damage.”

Town attorney Sal Ferlazzio said the town could sue for property damages done to the trails, and the intent is to protect the public.

Board members agreed to table the proposed local law until their meeting on Nov. 10, in which Ferlazzio will redline it and represent the local law to board members. There will not be a second public hear, but residents will have a chance to speak during the public comment portion of the agenda, Horton said.

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