In the ongoing debate over the proposed warrant article to ban assault weapons in Westford, a new debate arose at last night's Board of Selectmen's meeting involving the subject: how many people are coming?
Board of Selectmen chairman Kelly Ross ultimately had to postpone the hearing due to violations of the fire code, which saw more than the 47 maximum people in the town hall conference room in addition to above the 75 maximum elsewhere on the second floor of town hall and numbers approaching the 75 maximum on the building's first floor.
"I knew there would be a lot of people, but I didn't know there would be this many, and in retrospect I should have," he said, stating the final number of e-mails and phone calls numbered in the "dozens."
Ross indicated that he had been getting e-mails and phone calls about the measure, but the pace quickened significantly late last week, at which point changing the location would have faced logistical hurdles such as public notice and preparation for Westford CAT taping.
He informed Fire Chief Richard Rochon on Monday afternoon about the potential of overcrowding, but hoped for the best.
For Debra Grumbach of Westford Pro-2A, a pro-gun rights group, the decision not to move the location ahead of time was frustrating and disappointing.
"It was obvious that they expected a larger than normal turnout, they requested (two) police officers and they requested the fire chief to be here yesterday, so I think they should have been a little bit more proactive," she said, also noting that several seats were already reserved for members of the Finance Committee, who had another spot on the agenda.
"With the number of phone calls and e-mails they've been getting around this article, one would have expected that they would have moved it to a larger venue."
The Selectmen voted 4-0-0, with Andrea Peraner-Sweet absent, to recommend approval of all the warrant articles except for Article 30 (the gun ban), Article 16 (capital expenditures for the Westford Academy bleachers, boilers at two schools and other items now requiring bonding), re-opening the warrant for a new article helping to fund a track at Nashoba Tech and two citizens' petitioned warrant articles on the gun issue submitted on Friday and Tuesday.
Citizen's petitioned warrant articles are required to be on the warrant after being heard by the Selectmen, which will occur at the rescheduled meeting.
Additionally, Articles 19 and 20 were removed from the warrant.
The selectmen are expected to meet again on the remaining articles on Wednesday or Thursday with possible locations including the auditorium of Westford Academy, the Blanchard School or the Stony Brook School.
The exact time, date and location is expected no later than Friday.