Anyone who has almost hit a deer in the city limits of Grove raise your hand.
The show of almost every hand at a public hearing last year is what gave the Grove City Council the green light to draft an ordinance that would allow bow hunting in the city limits of Grove. Tuesday night the council unanimously approved the ordinance. No hunting will, however, be allowed on city property.
Several avid deer hunters who turned out at the meeting in support of the program, even though the ordinance was approved, were somewhat discouraged at the stringent regulations the council enacted when amending the original language.
Changes included extending the distance a hunter needs to maintain from any structure from 150 feet to 300 feet. Those attending challenged the distance increase claiming it would narrow down the areas that would qualify to hunt in, especially in city limits where the available hunting areas are smaller than those in the county.
Hunters reminded the council that the ordinance calls for the deer stands to be elevated thus forcing the hunter to shoot toward the ground, minimizing the chances of a bow traveling a great distance. Council members, particularly council member at-large Mike Davenport. Davenport insisted he wasn't comfortable with the 150 feet regulations. All council members eventually voted to amend the ordinance along with several other changes that weren't contested.
In addition to the regulations of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation that prospective hunters will have to abide by, permit buyers will have to qualify in several areas to obtain a permit.
In order to obtain a City of Grove whitetail deer hunting permit, each individual must show proof of a valid and current State of Oklahoma hunting license and compliance with all other licensing and permitting requirements of the State of Oklahoma or the Department of Wildlife Conservation; show proof of having taken and passed the International Bow Hunting Education Program or the Oklahoma Hunter Education Course as per State of Oklahoma regulations; pass a shooting proficiency test which consists of three out of five shots to a nine-inch target from a distance of 20 yards; provide a plat or map identifying the location of property upon which the individual intends to conduct hunting activities: show proof of ownership of the land or written permission from the owner of the land on which the individual intends to hunt; and pay a permit fee of $20.00.
A lone resident, opposing the lawful hunting of deer in the city limits of Grove, was given time to express her concerns which included both an admiration and tolerance of the deer along with public safety concerns.
City Manager Bruce Johnson assured the audience that the city's goal has the public safety in mind and that the program is not only necessary but beneficial to the Grove residents.
“The fact that we do live in such close proximity to each other, we need to balance the public safety with the want to alleviate the deer population and the foliage they eat and the damage they do to property, both vehicular and personal.”
Former council member Dave Helms, who lives off of the State Park Road, said he has anywhere between 12 and 20 deer in his front yard on any given evening but because he could not shoot from a distance of 300 feet of a structure he would not be able to hunt near his house.
Johnson said that hopefully eliminating the deer in neighboring areas will help the situation on that road as well.
Some hunters said that while they enjoy hunting and deer meat, that was not always their main focus.
Cecil Vaughn, who said he was an experienced bow hunter, said that his objective was not to obtain the deer meat, since he gives it all away to charity anyway, but to hunt and to help the city safely alleviate some of the deer population.
Cities all across the country are trying to find non hunting solutions to the overpopulation of deer, some spending thousands of dollars on programs, many that are not successful, according to the National Wildlife Association.
A copy of the ordinance can be obtained at City Hall or viewed on the Grove Sun website.
In other business, the Grove City Council recognized volunteer hours provided by Volunteers in Police Service VIPS. The group was commended particularly for helping with traffic control at the Grove lower grades campus during the heat in the morning and afternoons. A proclamation was signed by city officials and given to the group.
The council also heard an update and overview presentation of the GPS mapping system being conducted for the city of Grove. Presenter Brian Weldy reported that more than 60% of streets in the city were not addressed, meaning they would not show up on a GPS system and would be hard to find for emergency services.
The project, when completed, will assist Emergency Management Personnel along with Telephone companies, to locate residences.
The board also voted to vacate and foreclose the right to reopen Mark Avenue and part of an alleyway in Wilson Addition near the old hospital.
Johnson updated the council on various items and projects including presenting the council with a cost analysis report for the waste water treatment plant improvement Phase III for the city and GMSA. Johnson said every third year the city meeting peak demand at the water treatment plant. The original plan was a 5 year plan for improvements upon which the final stage is Phase III. Johnson said the monies from the 1989 bond series will no longer have to pay towards that bond as of Februray 2013. The cost analysis looks at making a $3.5 million in improvement based on the revenue that is existing on the 1989 series bonds.
Johnson also reported that the city is looking to the future for a comprehensive economic development plan and look into taking advantage of the current low interest rates for economic development purposes. The Grove Economic Development Authority meets the third Monday of the month and will be discussing the plans.
The Grove City Council meets on the first and third Monday of each month.
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