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Residents Share Concerns About Centerville Sportsmen’s Club

Jan 11, 2017 12:26PM ● Published by Andrew Sylvia

It wasn’t an official public hearing, but the Board of Selectmen still discussed neighborhood concerns over hours of operation at the Centerville Sportsmen’s Club on Wheeler Road.

Selectman Tony Archinski brought the matter before the board after residents told him they were confused over the club’s official hours. There were concerns regarding the club’s closing time as well as its opening time on Sundays, which had been placed at 1 p.m. to accommodate services nearby at St. Francis Parish.

Additionally, neighbors were concerned over shooting taking place after dark with newly installed lights at the facility, following earlier assurances from the club that their hours from Monday to Saturday would be from “dawn to dusk.”

Town Manager James Duggan told the board that he met with Centerville Sportsmen’s Club president Josh Taylor over the matter and received a positive response.

In an official memorandum from Duggan regarding his discussions with Taylor, Duggan said he learned that there were some exceptions to the 1 p.m. Sunday opening for rare “club shoot” events.

Duggan added in the memorandum that while the club’s normal hours were from dawn to dusk, they had modified the closing hours during Daylight Savings Time to 8 p.m., with closure occasionally being slightly later than that due to contests against over towns participating in the Greater Lowell Trap Shoot League.

However, Duggan also indicated in the memorandum that Taylor was eager to improve communication with neighbors to provide greater awareness on the club’s hours of operation.

For several neighbors in the audience, this promise fell on skeptical ears. Although the consensus among the neighbors was not opposed to the club, and at times even supportive of it, there was universal frustration with night shooting occurring at the club, as well as confusion over when the club was truly closed.

Neighbors also voiced significant frustration over the fact that the town was prohibited from regulating hours of the club under Massachusetts General Law Chapter 214-7b, which allows the club to operate at any time outside of 10 p.m. to 8 a.m.

The club was also established several decades before the earliest noise restriction bylaws were passed by Dracut voters in the 1980s.

Robert Berube of Wheeler Road told the board that in the past, there had been a handshake agreement between the club and the neighborhood that shooting would not take place at night, and that action needed to be taken to bring back the status quo.

“Everyone’s against it, I don’t want to hear it, I don’t want it at night,” said Berube to the board. “You all should be able to do something about it.”

Duggan, Town Counsel James Hall and members of the Board of Selectmen reiterated the limitations of the state law and their limitations to directly act against the club. However, they advised those in attendance to continue voicing their concerns in public settings such as Tuesday’s meeting and they also advised communicating directly with the club’s leadership.

No official action was taken during the meeting regarding the matter, although Selectman Jesse Forcier stated that since the agenda item was not an official public hearing, notices were not given to the club itself or all of club’s abutting property owners.

Due to that, he noted that others may have different viewpoints which weren’t represented during this initial discussion.

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