Town-owned pit in Standish now off limits to shooting

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STANDISH — The Town Council has finalized an ordinance change creating a “no discharge of firearms zone” on town-owned property off Boundary Road in Standish.

The Standish Town Council voted 6-1 at its Tuesday, May 8, meeting to create the approximately 50-acre zone for a town-owned pit, which one councilor previously described as a “war zone” given the frequency it is used for target shooting.

The vote was met with appreciation from several residents who live near the pit.

“I want to be able live like a normal person again with peace and quiet. I got home today from working, walking in to my home, and of course they’re down (in the pit) shooting – constantly. So I thank you all for taking the time and the effort for doing this,” said Marie Laviolet of Woodland Avenue. She helped jump-start the ordinance discussion after speaking before the council in January.

“I would like to repeat that. It has been a nuisance for quite a while,” echoed Byron Mitchell, who lives on Nature’s Way.

The proposed ordinance would make it unlawful for anyone to discharge “any instrument used in the propulsion of pellets, shot, shells or bullets by action of gunpowder, compressed air or gas exploded or release within it” on the town’s Boundary Road pit property and would carry a $1,000 fine per day for a first offense and a $1,500 fine per day for a second offense.

Councilor Isabel Higgins, who introduced the ordinance change, said “it hopefully is going to be the first big step in solving this problem that has gone on for so long.”

Councilor Michael Delcourt supported the creation of the zone but also expressed initial concern that Higgins’ comment about a “first step” was a reference to a potential town-wide firearms discharge ban.

She said that was not the case.

“When I said the first step – the first step in solving this problem, this one property,” Higgins said later. “That was what I intended to say and I’m sorry if it sounded otherwise.”

As in previous votes on the ordinance, Council Vice Chairman Greg Sipris was the only vote against the measure.

“I’m really glad that this is going to be resolved for you,” Sirpis told the people who live in the neighborhood near the pit. “But I also want you to know that I cannot support this order.”

Sirpis has previously expressed his concern that the no discharge of firearms zone for the pit property could eventually lead to a town-wide ordinance, and suggested Tuesday night that the town could post the land rather than enact an ordinance.

He also questioned the timing of the ordinance taking effect immediately, and asked if people in town would have enough notification that the pit is now off limits to shooting.

Sirpis considered making a motion to amend the order so that it wouldn’t become effective until the town posted signs for the new zone, but said he would withdraw the motion if Town Manager Kris Tucker agreed that fines for any potential violations of the new ordinance wouldn’t start until signs went up at the property.

“That was my intent,” Tucker said.

The debate about shooting in the town has stretched back years. In 2015, the council ultimately defeated a proposed town-wide firearms ordinance that grew out of a petition effort by residents in the Richville neighborhood along Route 114. Those concerns stemmed from shooting activity in a gravel pit owned by Maietta Enterprises.

Last November, the council shot down a proposed lease agreement with the Standish Fish and Game Club, of which Sirpis was president at the time, that aimed to create an outdoor sporting facility and shooting range on a different town-owned property off of Boundary Road.

Matt Junker can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or mjunker@keepmecurrent.com. Follow him on Twitter: @MattJunker.

This map shows the town-owned pit off Boundary Road in Standish that the Town Council has re-zoned as a no discharge of firearms zone.

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