Hearing held in Milford to discuss target shooting at Brox

MILFORD – A new rule that would prohibit target shooting on the Brox property was the subject of a public hearing last week, but selectmen indicated they might consider having one area on the town-owned property for targeting shooting.

Several people spoke against the proposed ban at the April 10 meeting, saying there has never been an incident in which someone got hurt.

Selectmen’s Vice Chairman Kevin Federico, who supported the ban, said if a group of committed residents wants to plan and supervise a target shooting area, similar to what local residents planning a dog park are doing, he’d listen to their proposal.

But before the town could OK it, the group would have to show it could deal with environmental and life-safety issues, he said.

The new rule as it’s proposed would forbid target shooting on the entire 270-acre property. Hunting by licensed hunters in season and bow-and-arrow target shooting wouldn’t be affected by the ban.

Police Chief Michael Viola gave a slide presentation showing the three areas where target shooting occurs, one in the northern industrial-commercial area of Brox and two in what’s called the community lands. One is outside the gravel pit area and one is near Perry Road.

Viola said people are using the property for dog walking, hiking and mountain biking.

“We need to balance the right” to safety and the rights of local hunters who use the area to practice shooting, he said. “It was a gray area for our office,” he said, and police felt obligated to let selectmen know this is happening.

Although police get only about four calls a year, Viola said, staff members at nearby Heron Pond School sometimes complain.

Chris LaBonte said he remembers when the town bought the property and there were promises it could be used for recreation, and that those uses have been whittled down.

A resident of nearby Old Wilton Road said he had taught his wife, son and granddaughter to shoot there, and that people who are target shooting know what they’re doing.

School Board member Jenni Siegrist asked selectmen to make sure the area near the school is off limits to hunting because the School District might be using more of the area for programs.

Chris Skinner, of Milford, talked about how state hunting regulations allow coyote hunting year-round, which could be a loophole that would allow hunters on Brox anytime.

Tina Vallier, of Mile Slip Road, suggested having a target area far from the school that people would regulate themselves.

If there is an official area, Police Capt. Craig Frye said, neighbors will likely have a problem with the noise and it could attract people with high-powered rifles.

Police had proposed the ban, saying without some kind of rule or ordinance, they have little authority over target shooters.

Selectmen said they will continue talking about it on Monday, April 24.

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