Westminster Rod & Gun Club Alert

7/1/17 Update: Back to normal!

We spoke to our contact at the club today, he informed us that everything is back to normal and that members have been enjoying themselves at the range.  GOAL would like to thank everyone who participated in the process of protecting the club from overreach.


5/17/17 Update: Positive development last night, but….

There is still a ways to go. The ZBA found in favor of the club at last night’s meeting. That’s the positive news.

However, it’s not over. There is now a 20 day waiting period that allows an appeal of the decision. This would require a court appearance by the neighbor who wants to force the club to close. If he appeals the club will have 100 days to respond.

The club is working on organizing a range fun day to raise funds to offset their skyrocketing legal fees. We will provide details for that as they become available.


5/5/17 Update: Zoning Board To Render Decision May 16th

Thank you to everyone who attended the most recent ZBA meeting in Westminster.  

For the time being, the club remains closed by Westminster’s building inspector.

Of note

  1. The town had no legal standing to close the club because of “zoning violations” – the club has not violated any zoning requirements as they predate them.
  2. The club is protected by MA law from being shutdown due to noise/use.
  3. There is no legal basis for keeping the club closed.

Yet, the club remains closed until at least May 16th, at which time the ZBA will render a decision about the future of the club.

The club is working closely with Attorney Martha Dean, they are exploring all options going forward, we will update with information as it becomes available.


4/28/17 Update – The Hearing will be continued on May 2nd at 7:00 PM at the same place (see below)

If you plan to attend, please discuss these two things.

  1. The town has no legal standing to close the club because of “zoning violations” – the club has not violated any zoning requirements as they predate them.
  2. The club is protected by MA law from being shutdown due to noise/use.

See below for more information.


**GOAL Alert**

Take Action! please attend the zoning board appeal meeting, scheduled for April 20 – 7:00 PM at the Westminster elementary school in support of the club and urge the board to rescind the cease & desist order and stop the illegal attacks on the club.

4/12/17 Update:

The club has undergone three attacks over the last year from a neighbor named Mike Fortin, who is also on Westminster’s planning board.

The first, based on noise was defeated.  The second, based on an “illegally built” structure was also defeated.  When the first two failed, Fortin convinced Westminster’s Building Inspector Paul Blanchard to issue a cease and desist order based on violation of non-conforming permit.  Fortin is claiming that increased activity at the club goes against the permit and Blanchard agreed with him.  “The intensity of the noise stemming from the use has dramatically increased. Based on this information, I find that to the extent there is any protection afforded the property as a pre-existing nonconforming use, it has been exceeded,” wrote Zoning Enforcement Officer Paul Blanchard.

GOAL has also learned that the club was harassed by Mike Fortin, who showed up at the club to yell at members about the cease and desist order, before it was issued to the club!

There is an interesting backstory here as well.  Here’s what we know, Mike Fortin is on the Westminster Planning BoardHe will be a deciding factor on a vote to approve a 48 acre subdivision to be built on vacant land that lies less than a mile as the crow flies from the club.  According to town records the land to be developed, on Newton road is owned by someone named Bruce Fortin.  Coincidence?  For some reason, Bruce Fortin’s name is being kept out of all meetings regarding development of the property, an advocate named David Murphy has been making the appearance at the approval meetings.

We have to ask, what is the connection between Bruce and Mike Fortin?  Are they related?  Does Mike Fortin have a financial interest in the proposed housing development that is less than a mile from the club?

We look forward to answers on these questions.


3/30/17

GOAL has learned that the Westminster Rod & Gun Club has been illegally forced to cease all range activities by the town’s zoning office because of noise complaints from a neighbor.

See note below from a Westminster club member. If you live in the area please attend the hearing on 4/20/17.

Like many clubs, their land is located within what is now residential zoning, but is grandfathered because the club predates the zoning laws.
One of the neighbors is demanding that club activities be ratcheted back to the level practiced at the time zoning came into effect in the 70’s. This, of course, is near impossible to quantify

There is a hearing scheduled for 4/20 – but in the meantime, the Zoning Enforcement Office aka Building Inspector, has shut things down, though I get the idea that he was reluctant to do so.


Take Action! Westminster residents – please attend the zoning board appeal meeting, scheduled for April 20 – 7:00 PM at the Westminster elementary school.

GOAL will update this post as information becomes available

 




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