Leyden votes “no” on hotly contested citizen safety bylaw

  • Leyden residents were dismissed row by row to cast their ballots on a safety bylaw Monday night. Recorder Staff/Christie Wisniewski

  • Examples of the paper ballots cast by Leyden residents on a safety bylaw Monday night. Recorder Staff/Christie Wisniewski

Recorder Staff
Published: 1/22/2018 10:11:47 PM

LEYDEN — A safety bylaw that would have prohibited hunters from discharging weapons on public or private property was voted down 114-54 Monday night at a packed Town Hall.

The small Town Hall parking lot was filled to capacity, and vehicles that didn’t get a prime spot lined nearby roads. More than 150 people attended the special town meeting, many wearing camouflage hats or jackets, and the main room of Town Hall soon became standing room only.

Town Moderator Kathy DiMatteo stood before the crowd prior to the official start of the meeting and reminded members of the audience that they were only welcome if they were a registered voter. Attendees of the meeting were required to prove that they were registered to vote in Leyden and received a small colored index card to raise if they chose to speak. DiMatteo also reminded the audience that she has the authority to limit comments to one per person, limit the debate to an hour and ask people to leave the room if they become belligerent.

“If you don’t leave, we have our police force and constable who can take you out of the room and detain you until the end of the meeting,” DiMatteo warned the crowd. A meeting about the same bylaw in December required the police chief to stand in the center aisle to watch over the tense discussion.

The meeting was called to order 26 minutes after the stated start time of 7 p.m. since so many people were lined up to prove their voter status and receive their index card.

Leyden resident John Higgins immediately requested that the hotly contested bylaw be discussed first, in front of four other town matters that were scheduled to be discussed at the meeting. DiMatteo asked the attendees to raise their index cards if they agreed, and immediately a sea of cards rose into the air.

At 7:30, the meeting was opened to discussion. Higgins reminded the audience that the bylaw had been amended from its previous state. Previously, the bylaw would have allowed weapons to be confiscated from those who were found in violation of the law, and would have imposed a fine on violators. The bylaw, when voted upon Monday night, no longer contained those details.

A few comments were made before Selectboard member Bill Glabach called for the vote to be made without further discussion. Echoes of “I second!” rang throughout the audience.

After the majority of the crowd agreed to cease discussion and vote, each row of people was dismissed to cast paper ballots in the back of the room. Voters received a piece of paper with “yes” and “no” printed on it, and they were instructed to tear off their vote and cast it.

Votes were counted and recounted, and around 8:30 p.m. the decision was announced.

Reach Christie Wisniewski at:

cwisniewski@recorder.com

or 413-772-0261, ext. 280




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