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Lancaster debates hunting law proposal

A debate Tuesday over weapons discharged in residential areas of Lancaster sparked strong sentiment from residents about the safety of their children and from hunters who say they are respectful of their sport.

Many urged the Town Board to deal with an isolated area in the Walden Trace subdivision rather than propose expansive restrictions on weapons in many residential areas.

Supervisor Johanna M. Coleman said the town’s draft local law is not intended to regulate hunting, but rather to restrict the discharge of weapons within 500 feet of structures in four residential zones, which include subdivisions and densely populated areas with apartments, town houses and condominiums. She said it was just a draft, and the Town Board did not take any action Tuesday after hearing one hour of debate.

Neighorhood complaints to the town surfaced last fall when residents, whose yards back up against a 50-foot wide by 1,731-foot long swath of land owned by a Buffalo man who they say does long-bow hunting on that narrow stretch, became upset. They sought relief from state officials who said there were no violations and turned the matter back to the town.

The area in question is a stretch of land running between Trentwood Trail and Seneca Place in the Walden Trace subdivision, not far from the Lancaster High School and Hillview Elementary School.

Residents and town leaders said the state Department of Environmental Conservation recently changed its law prohibiting discharges from 500 feet from residences to 150 feet from houses.

“This is a very unusual situation, and in my mind something the DEC should address,” Coleman said. “Nobody wants to restrict hunting, except on that 50-foot strip of land.”

“Why do I want to gamble with my kids’ life?” asked Trentwood Trail resident Jamie Johnson. “We don’t want weapons being discharged within feet–not acres – of where our kids play and there are pets.”

Others thought the town’s proposed law would be too restrictive and should instead zero in on the isolated area in the subdivision.

“The way this is written, it covers far too much of an area for an isolated problem in this town,” said Mark Martzolf of William Street, questioning why the board thought the proposed law would be more effective than the state law.