Hunting restriction bylaw comes to vote Monday

  • Leyden resident Bob Anson speaks during a public hearing for a proposed bylaw at Town Hall, Dec. 4, 2017. Recorder file photo/Andy Castillo

Recorder Staff
Published: 1/18/2018 10:09:57 PM

LEYDEN — The fate of a proposed hunting restriction bylaw that has created controversy in town will be finally decided on Monday following a vote at special town meeting.

The proposed bylaw represents the last of five articles to be voted on at the meeting, scheduled to start at 7 p.m. in Town Hall.

However, the language may look different to residents who first saw the bylaw during a heated public hearing on Dec. 4. A copy of the amended bylaw, distributed by organizers of the Leyden Life town newsletter, explains that an informal committee of petition signatories who supported the original bylaw joined with residents who hunt and specialize in wildlife management to revise the language.

Because the new language was developed after the warrant was finalized, the new wording will be proposed as an amendment.

Many aspects of the amended bylaw remain the same, stating that “no person shall fire or discharge any firearm or weapon of any kind within the limits of any park, playground or other public property of the town, except with the consent of the (Selectboard) or other town governmental body with jurisdiction over such property,” or on private property without consent from the owner or legal occupant. The bylaw would be in addition to applicable state laws.

Also, the revised bylaw still states enforcement would be overseen by the Leyden Police Department, the Massachusetts Environmental Police or any sworn police officer with jurisdiction in Leyden. It would “not apply to the lawful defense of life or property, nor to any law enforcement officer acting in the discharge of his (or her) duties.”

However, the original three-section bylaw has two new sections. Section 2 states a committee — representing elected officials, the police department and citizens — will be convened by the town moderator, with the responsibility of developing “procedures and materials for the implementation” of the bylaw. Language in the original bylaw outlining fines of $200 per violation, and that weapons used in the offenses would be confiscated by police, has been removed.

Additionally, Section 5 explains that should any provision or section of the bylaw be deemed invalid or unenforceable, all other provisions will remain in effect.

Resident Barbara Wallace, one of the proponents of the bylaw who collected signatures for the petition article, could not be reached by press time.

Other articles

Though the proposed bylaw, referred to as the Citizens Safety Bylaw, is expected to draw the most debate, Selectboard Chairman Lance Fritz said, the meeting warrant has four other articles including one to establish revolving funds for use by town boards, departments, committees or agencies.

Article 2 involves transferring $5,000 from free cash to replenish the Building Repairs and Maintenance Account following routine maintenance and the purchase of new doors for Town Hall, Fritz said. There aren’t current plans regarding how the money will be spent.

If passed, Article 4 would approve transferring $500 from free cash to pay for assistance in Municipal Assistant Bob Hardesty’s office. Hardesty has been on medical leave since mid-December, leading the Selectboard to seek temporary help, Fritz said. The town accountant, Tracey Baronas, has helped with billing and managing the office a couple of days each week.

Lastly, Article 3 involves establishing the operation of Leyden’s broadband network as an enterprise fund, effective next fiscal year. Fritz said that at the recommendation of the Department of Revenue, an enterprise fund must be established so the DOR can advise Leyden on keeping track of money for the broadband network. The article would only establish the fund, not allocate any money for it.

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