Public hearings set on new shooting rule

Entirety of Brox property will be off-limits to firearms

MILFORD – The entire 270-acre Brox property will be off-limits to firearms, except during hunting season, under a new town rule.

Selectmen will hold the first of two public hearings on the rule during their April 10 meeting.

The rule was proposed by police, and at the board’s March 27 meeting, Chief Michael Viola said his officers will work with people to educate them about the change.

He and Capt. Craig Frye had urged selectmen to consider the ban, saying they sometimes receive complaints about target shooting, including from nearby Heron Pond School. Without a rule or an ordinance, police usually don’t have a legal basis to tell anyone to stop shooting on the town-owned property.

Most target shooters are thought to be from out of town; Viola said police will initially give warnings as part of an education process.

“It’s a big change for people who are using it” for target practice, Viola said. “We will work with the community.”

There will be signs at the two road entrances and at the various places where shooting is thought to occur. The rule will be posted on the department’s website and social media, he said.

Robert Gott, of Brookview Court, told selectmen one of his neighbors was walking his dog on Brox years ago when bullets whizzed over his head, and he never went back.

Selectmen say they consider a rule preferable to an ordinance designating the property a “compact area,” because such an ordinance would mean all hunting, including bow hunting, would have to stop. After two public hearings, the board will take a vote.

The area is used by hikers and mountain bikers, and officials are concerned that without some kind of restrictions on gun use, the town is open to liability.

The idea for the rule came from town attorney Chris Drescher, who said towns and cities have the authority to control gun use, and that there has never been a court challenge.

The town of Merrimack prohibits target shooting on its Horse Hill Nature Preserve.

In Milford, people complain about shooting at the Mile Slip Town Forest, but that shooting occurs on private abutting properties, Viola said.

Kathy Cleveland can be reached at 673-3100 or kcleveland@cabinet.com.

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