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Selectmen Want Balance on Hunting Policy Committee, Members to Be Named in January

The following is Part Three of a transcript from the Dec. 10, 2013 Westford Board of Selectmen meeting.

The following is Part Three of a transcript from the Dec. 10, 2013 Westford Board of Selectmen meeting.

For a list of segments of the transcript, click here.

8:31 p.m. – The board returned to establishing the membership of the hunting policy committee.

Wormell went over the proposed makeup of the committee, with there being nine members and two volunteers, saying she hopes that there is a nice mix of hunters and non-hunters and they hope the committee will not focus on minutiae but rather writing a specific policy for Board of Selectmen controlled lands and other boards that hold significant portions of land.

She also indicated that the hope is to create a policy by September 2014 for the deer hunting season and that other towns’ policies would need to be investigated.

Selectman Ross continued, saying there are many different angles to take this from and the main goal is to get a good group of people that can work together toward a unanimous opinion rather than a simple majority.

Hazelton asked a question whether boards owning land could potentially amend the proposed policy when it comes, with Wormell saying the best approach would be a uniform approach.

She indicated that the polices now are inconsistent, with the Selectmen’s policy currently unknown.

Selectman Ross said he and Wormell didn’t want to impose too much on the committee, but hoped that the committee does work with the land-owning boards to get their input for a universal policy.

Peraner-Sweet appreciated the approach the two Selectmen were taking, saying that last time the board “got caught up in the weeds” and a broader approach was needed, and that the commission approach was a good idea.

A member of the audience asked how to get on the committee, with Peraner-Sweet indicating that there is a citizen’s activity form that members of the community can fill out to apply for the committee.

Selectman Ross said the likely date for decision on the committee members would be made in late January or early February.

Brendan Rudman of 14 Dana Drive said he like the idea to open the committee to all town residents and asked questions regarding the dates of hunting season.

Al Prescott of Lake Shore Drive North saying that the state sets the season each year, with the season usually going from September to December.

Wormell said that a neighborhood from Chelmsford was concerned and asked if abutters who were outside of town would be accepted.

Hazelton said the committee should consist of Westford residents, with Wormell asking to inform the neighborhood at least.

Bob Fesmire said he viewed hunting in two parts: those who enjoyed it as an activity as well as management of wildlife.

Wormell said she hopes the committee will also talk to fish and game experts, also noting that a member of the Board of Health could have potentially been on the committee.

Town Manager Ross said the Board of Health was not interested in being on the committee.

Peraner-Sweet entertained a motion to establish the committee, with goals and composition as drafted Wormell and Ross, which was unanimously approved, with the subcommittee to establish the committee unanimously dissolved.

Peraner-Sweet reiterated that residents could fill out a citizens’ activity form to apply for the committee and applications would be open until January.

Jim Jarvie of Cranberry Drive asked what criteria would be used to appoint members of the committee.

Selectman Ross said that part of the determination would be in the charge, with the hope that a broad array of viewpoints could be added, as well as using knowledge of who can work well with others, indicating it was an inexact science.

Peraner-Sweet reiterated this goal.

8:49 p.m. – The Board of Selectmen began to approve 13 sets of minutes from previous meetings. All the minutes were approved unanimously.

8:51 p.m. – Peraner-Sweet gave an update on the Registered Marijuana Dispensary Committee and its work to establish a proposed zoning bylaw for possibly Registered Marijuana Dispensaries that may attempt to come to Westford.

She said that the bylaw is beginning to shape up as an overlay district where dispensaries may be allowed if they apply. Dispensaries would have to comply with the new bylaw as well as existing general bylaws and that dispensaries would not be allowed in residential districts.

The goal is to have a draft bylaw by mid-January to bring to Spring Town Meeting since the current moratorium on dispensaries in Westford ends in May.

Wormell said that no dispensaries in the state had reached Phase Two of the application process, so it was unlikely any were coming to Westford and that the general marijuana bylaw may need to be amended.

8:54 p.m. – Town Manager Ross discussed an extension between the School Committee and the Water Department, which was unanimously approved and talked about a new agreement with Konica that would save just over $2,000 in copiers.

The December 17 meeting was cancelled. Ross then talked about the town’s tree at the Festival of Trees at the Regency and thank you letters from Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts for tours of town hall as well as from Team Imagination.

8:57 p.m. – The meeting adjourned.  

Chris Daley December 11, 2013 at 08:37 AM
Heard one loud, sudden shotgun/rifle blast at dark last night. Can you see me now? Or see it after 4pm? No more than 100 yards if that from my street. This isn't Moffat County Colorado. I just scoff at this Westford hunting fantasy, in the yellow urbanized part of my road atlas for Boston. Child's play.
Andrew Sylvia (Editor) December 11, 2013 at 09:06 AM
If you've got the general area and the time, I can follow up with WPD
Steven Sadowski December 11, 2013 at 09:18 AM
Hunting is not allowed at night, so if it was someone hunting (presumably with flashlights) you should've called WPD. It's too late now because whoever it was is now long gone. But if you read the Patch you'll also see weekly police reports of people being caught for drugs, domestic assault, speeding, etc. People are going to break the law, but those people do not reflect the majority of Westford residents who follow the law and are respectful. When done according to the law, hunting is only supposed to occur from sunrise to sundown, during specific seasons and not on Sunday or holidays, not near a dwelling or road and on land specifically designated for hunting. As for the "atlas" Westford is not Somerville. The town has thousands of acres of conservation land and parks, a perfect breeding ground for deer, bear, fox, coyotes, etc. Add to that the landscaping most people have around their homes and it's not uncommon for wildlife to live amongst all the thatched backyards, so while Westford may seem to "urban" for your ideological opinion, it is perfect for the biological cycles of wildlife. This wildlife needs to be managed, so we can pay officers to go in an euthanize a certain amount of deer, r the state can make money off of licenses, fees and stamps and have certified residents do it for free, feed their families organic meat for the winter and pass down a tradition to their sons and daughters.

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