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Windsor Amends Hunting Policy

Windsor — A controversy over hunting, trapping and the use of firearms in Paradise Park was squelched Tuesday night when the Selectboard approved an amendment to a recent ordinance to further clarify the guidelines for such activities.

With about a dozen people in the audience waiting to speak at a public hearing on the “ordinance relating to Paradise Park,” Town Manager Tom Marsh read the amendment that was approved by the town’s Park Commission last Thursday.

Under the amendment to the ordinance that was approved last month by the Selectboard, “no hunting or trapping is allowed in Paradise Park.” In the event wildlife causes a public health risk or damage in the park, the Park Commission would coordinate with the appropriate agencies to address the problem. This could include state environmental officials, game wardens and public health officials.

In the version of the ordinance approved last month, it was not clear that hunting would be limited to a handful of officials, and many residents believe hunting would be open to anyone who applied for a permit.

“I feel a little bit better,” said resident Barbara Rhoad, who said she came prepared with a “spiel” against hunting in the park.

Rhoad and others said the wording in the original ordinance caused “confusion” because she did not believe the commission would allow hunting in the park.

The amendment went on to say that discharge of firearms, explosives or other weapons — including pellet guns, BB guns, archery equipment and slingshots — are not allowed in the park.

Those activities would have been allowed with prior approval by the Park Commission in the original wording.

Resident Dave Taft, a hunter, said he was “shocked” by the wording of the original ordinance and was concerned about people “touching off weapons” with hikers, people walking their dogs and others in the park.

“Being a hunter, I couldn’t understand it,” Taft said.

Selectboard Chairman Clayton Paronto said the board did not approve the ordinance intending it to allow hunting by anyone who applied for a permit.

“I don’t think anyone on the board voted on it to open the park to recreational hunters,” Paronto said.

He always believed the ordinance would mean limited hunting for the purposes stated.

While the amended eased concerns about hunting, it didn’t stop criticism of commissioners and Selectboard members for adopting an ambiguous rules.

Resident Dia Ballou, while praising the commission members for their efforts on the town’s behalf, said the public was correct to challenge the ordinance.

“When something is worded so poorly, I think we have a right to question it,” Ballou said.

The ordinance was also amended to say that requests for certain activities, such as mountain biking, military reenactments or student archery programs, will be reviewed by the commission on a case-by-case basis.

Marsh said many of these activities have been allowed, including trapping, but that was not spelled out in the ordinance.

“What seems to be clear is more effort needs to be put into the wording so it clearly reflects the majority of the people in town,” Marsh said.

The amended ordinance now has to be advertised, and if no other changes are made, it will take effect in 60 days.

New Police Chief Hired

Also Tuesday night, Marsh told the Selectboard that William Sampson, of Lake Worth, Fla., has been hired as the new police chief and will take over for the retiring Stephen Soares in August. A Massachusetts native, Sampson has more than 27 years of experience in law enforcement in jurisdictions with populations ranging from less than 3,000 to more than 1 million, Marsh said. Sampson was chosen from a pool of 40 applicants.