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Lancaster to ban hunting on town property
By Lee Chowaniec
Sep 21, 2010, 10:39
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After listening to the pleas of a Town of Lancaster resident speak on the dangers of hunting taking place in the Marrano Marc Equity Pleasant Meadows subdivision, the Town Board made it clear that they were in favor of not only banning hunting in the subdivision but all types of activities on the predominantly wetland 50-acre site.

Chicory Lane resident (Ms.) Alessandro brought in photos and a petition listing 52 signatures to contest charges made last week by a hunter who appeared before the Town Board declaring that it was residents whose properties did not abut the town-owned property who were complaining about hunting on the town-owned property.

The resident was asked to address the board by Councilman John Abraham who visited the area and conferred with the residents to hear their side of the story. Alessandro declared she had moved into the Chicory Lane house in October of 2007. Hunters and gunshots were observed and seen from day one. “Signs were posted and apparently that wasn’t enough because two years ago hunters were been spotted and one was seen dragging a dead dear out of there, between my house and my neighbors; not something you want the children to see. Gunshots were heard again last year. We called the police and were told that the property owner allowed hunting in the woods. We later found out that the town owned the property and here we are.”

“That’s why we posted it,” declared Abraham. Alessandro was appreciative of the posting but said that after reading the Lancaster Bee article on the previous week’s meeting with the hunter advocating bow hunting taking place on the property, two things stuck out for her. One was that the hunter claimed the residents complaining did not have properties abutting the 50-acre conserved area. She showed a photo of her back yard which clearly showed her property did abut the wetland and which showed a play house that was back near the rear property line. She next presented a petition signed by 52 Chicory Lane homeowners objecting to the hunting taking place behind their properties.

Supervisor Robert Giza voiced that the use of the conserved area was intended for walkers only. With the no trespassing signs in place that would disallow anyone from entering the woods for whatever reason.

“That’s fine with me,” declared Council Member Donna Stempniak. “Those are supposed to be protected wetlands. I am not in favor in having that used as a recreational site, at all. The wetlands are to be preserved.”

Abraham added that before and when the project started Marrano allowed hunting to take place. “I don’t like us to allow hunting on town owned property. Conscientious as most hunters are, there is misdirection and chance of injury. For liability and safety reasons, I don’t know how we can allow hunting on town property.”

It was then discussed on what type of signage was appropriate. As a bow is considered a firearm, bow hunting would also be restricted. To ensure there were would be no DEC issue regarding placing restriction on hunting but allowing other activities, it appears the property will be signed “no trespassing.” Abraham declared that the no trespassing signs should remain on the town owned property in Pleasant Meadows and that he would be willing to sponsor a resolution that would put into local law such ordinance for all town owned properties.

Supervisor Giza added that he did not believe the town owned that much large land that such ordinance would be required. Councilman Ron Ruffino interjected that such action did not preclude someone from breaking the law, but that the town had done its job and now the police would have to take over.

The board was questioned as to whether small strips of town owned property would also be signed; property that lies between larger pieces of private property. When being told that the property was of insignificant size and probably not, the attendee questioned how would the hunter(s) differentiate between town owned property and private property and where was the concern for safety and liability. It was agreed that the smaller parcels would be signed.

Supervisor Giza asked the board: “If you are saying no discharging of firearms, are you saying there is no walking on town owned property?”

Councilman Mark Aquino: “Yeah, we are not saying trespassing.”

Stempniak: “There is no discharge of firearms on town-owned property. You can walk on certain parcels, like Westwood Park or Heritage Trail. If we find a big enough parcel like the Pleasant Meadows site where the wetlands should be protected, then we will have to post it (no trespassing). We don’t want anyone walking there.”

Aquino: “This (Pleasant Meadows) is more restrictive.”

When it was brought up by the writer that at the time of site plan approval it was mentioned that the 50-acre site was intended to be used as a passive park/recreation area, Stempniak stated that it was the developer that said that but that the town did not accept it as such. “That was not the town’s plan to develop a park there.”

I was surprised to hear that considering Supervisor Giza had advocated for the use of the property as a passive park when the subdivision project was first presented and thereafter. There was talk of even putting in off road parking and benches. In fact, Supervisor Giza stated at the last meeting that despite the no trespassing signs being posted he had no problem with people walking the site. Yet concern was brought up that using the site in any fashion can lead to personal injury and litigation.

Regular Town Board meeting

At the regular meeting, resident Mike Fronczak requested the town consider establishing new boundary lines where hunting can be allowed. Declaring he was a hunter he stated he knows that times change and with all the incidences and concerns on hunting taking place in residential areas, he asked whether the town considered contacting the DEC and talked about realigning the borderlines for hunting.

“With town growth someone really needs to re-examine the master plan and change the borderlines where hunting to not allowed," voiced Fronczak. They don’t allow hunting in Amherst or Clarence. "Again, I am a hunter, but we have to be practical. There are areas in the town where you can’t hunt. That was established years ago. We have added more developments and more are coming. It’s time to talk to the DEC before more accidents take place.”

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