Town pit could become ‘no discharge of firearms zone’ in Standish

The Standish Town Council has advanced an ordinance change that, if finalized, would create a "No Discharge ofFirearms Zone" specifically for a town-owned pit on Boundary Road. 

STANDISH — The Town Council has advanced an ordinance change that would create a “no discharge of firearms zone” on one specific town-owned property off of Boundary Road in Standish.

The Council appears receptive to the targeted ordinance change, which must still have a first reading and public hearing before being finalized and voted 5-1 on March 1 to move forward with the proposal. Councilor Peter Starostecki was absent that night.

“This specifically refers to the pit on Boundary Road — the town-owned pit on Boundary Road that has been such a problem,” said Councilor Isabel Higgins, who chairs the ordinance subcommittee and introduced the ordinance change last week. “This is specifically for that property, period.”

Residents Marie and Steve Laviolet of Woodland Avenue came before the Council in January to express their frustration about shooting in the nearby pit, after which Higgins suggested a council workshop on the subject.

“It has now become a free-for-all for people to go down and shoot, seven days a week. Saturday and Sundays are the worst,” Marie Laviolet told the Council. “They don’t care in about us — they go in with many, many people.”

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.

The ordinance language was drafted by the town’s legal representatives, Town Manager Kris Tucker said last week.

Higgins said that shooting in the Boundary Road pit has been “such a problem for such a long time, including affecting people’s property values — not to mention their quality of life.”

She added that the ordinance change would be “a good first step in helping to solve the problem.”

Council Vice Chairman Greg Sirpis was the lone vote against the ordinance change for the town’s Boundary Road property. He raised several objections including his concern that the move could open the door to a firearms ordinance throughout the town.

“I fear that this ordinance is the beginning of a firearms ordinance,” Sirpis said. “I’m all for giving those poor folks up there some relief, but we’re going about this the wrong way.”

Councilor Michael Delcourt, who ultimately voted in favor of the measure last week, had similar concerns.

“I have to vote yes because the people are living in hell — they’re living in a combat zone there, and that needs to be fixed,” Delcourt said, noting that target shooting is also an issue in other parts of town. “However, I don’t buy this. This is a door-opener.”

Delcourt wondered if the one-property specific zone would be expanded town-wide.

“No, this is just for that spot — which is town-owned,” Pomerleau responded.

The proposed ordinance contains a specific description of the approximately 50-acre property on Boundary Road where the no-discharge-of-firearms zone would be created.

Higgins said after the meeting that the property is not the same parcel of land that the Standish Fish and Game Club proposed to lease from the town in order create an outdoor sporting facility. That proposal, which would have included a shooting range, stalled in November after some residents voiced opposition to the plan and several councilors said they needed more information.

At the time, Sirpis was President of the Fish and Game Club and his two roles caused some friction during the debate. He said his recent departure from club leadership was for several reasons including that his term was up in December and his vision and the club’s vision “were no longer the same.”

Sirpis suggested that the Boundary Road pit should be posted rather than create the no discharge of firearms zone, and asked if there was a plan for providing a place for residents to target shoot.

“While we’re solving a problem that has been an ongoing issue for these folks up there — and it’s terrible, and I’m glad that it’s being addressed — I’d like to know what the Council’s intention is to give the residents of this town a place to shoot after this is closed,” Sirpis said last week. “Because this is where they have shot for many, many years and you’re taking that away. And I want to know what provision you’re going to provide for them so that they can continue to shoot their firearms.”

Councilor Brian Libby, who also serves on the fish and game club’s board, voted in favor of advancing the ordinance change and said after the meeting that he thought “mostly out of state-rs” are using the Boundary Road pit for target shooting.

“I’m not sure there’s a whole lot of locals that are using it,” Libby said.

The debate about shooting in the town has stretched back years. In 2015, the Council ultimately shot down 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.

The proposed ordinance change limited to the town’s Boundary Road pit is tentatively scheduled for a first reading on April 10 and a public hearing and vote on May 8.

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

The Standish Town Council has advanced an ordinance change that, if finalized, would create a “No Discharge ofFirearms Zone” specifically for a town-owned pit on Boundary Road.