Hunters in Whitefield would need a landowner’s permission, and proof of such permission, to hunt on private property under an ordinance proposed by a hunter and landowner.
The ordinance would have to go to the Whitefield Board of Selectmen and a vote at town meeting to take effect.
Bruce Tibbetts, who owns 18 acres of land in Whitefield, presented the proposal to the Whitefield Planning Board on Wednesday, Jan. 24.
Tibbetts said the proposal results from past abuses on local property and hunting accidents.
Planning board members said he would have to present it as a potential warrant article for the town meeting, and it is too late to make the warrant of the March 17 meeting.
“Our actions are driven by the town comprehensive plan,” board member Glenn Angell said. “It is not a land use issue.”
Board Chair Jim Torbert and others decided Tibbetts should take the proposal to the selectmen, who have the authority to place it on a warrant for a future town meeting. They recommended that Tibbetts garner local support for the ordinance before it goes to a town vote.
During the discussion, board members and Tibbetts spoke of incidents of hunters paying little or no attention to landowners’ “no trespassing” posts. Tibbetts said he wants to be able to tell hunters to avoid areas on his property where he keeps animals.
The private property safety ordinance states: “No individual may enter onto the private property of another while in possession of a weapon for any reason without first physically obtaining permission from the property owner whose property they wish to enter.
“Possession of a weapon on private property of another without having proof of the aforementioned method of permission shall be construed as prima facie evidence of a violation of this ordinance.”
The town would impose a fine for a violation. “It is not a criminal offense. It’s a civil offense,” Tibbetts said. “Any money generated goes to the town.”
Tibbetts, who hunts himself and does not oppose hunting on his property with his permission, said he had to post his property to prohibit hunting altogether.
He told the board he went before the selectmen with the ordinance, the wording of which follows an ordinance for the town of Paris, Maine.
If the selectmen decide to send the ordinance to voters, the matter would have to go to a public hearing before the vote, according to the planning board.
The planning board changed its meeting to Jan. 24 instead of its usual third Wednesday of the month due to the storm conditions the previous week.