Approval would affect section of Brownell Mountain
April 8, 2010
By Greg Duggan
The amount of land available for hunting in Williston could soon shrink.
Observer photo by Greg Duggan
A sign prohibits hunting in Five Tree Hill Country Park. The land was posted in the fall and, after reviewing all town-owned property, the Conservation Commission has recommended a section of Brownell Mountain be similarly posted.
The Conservation Commission has reviewed all town-owned land in Williston, and made recommendations of where to allow or prohibit hunting. The commission suggested posting signs that ban hunting on a section of Brownell Mountain north of Sucker Brook.
The recommendation follows a decision by the Selectboard last fall to prohibit hunting in Five Tree Hill Country Park, located on Sunset Hill Road. The Selectboard made the decision after area residents raised concerns about hiker safety during hunting season.
With some exceptions, hunting is generally permitted south of Interstate 89 in Williston and banned north of the highway. State law also says that guns cannot be fired within 500 feet of a residence. Yet the town firearms ordinance allows the Selectboard to review parcels and make exceptions on a case-by-case basis.
Town Planner Jessica Andreoletti said that, following the decision to prohibit hunting in Five Tree Hill, “Rick (McGuire) asked the Conservation Commission to give a recommendation to the Selectboard in consideration of all town-owned parcels out of the restricted area. Basically anything south of (Interstate) 89.”
In a March 12 memo to McGuire, the town manager, Andreoletti wrote, “The (Conservation Commission) concluded that the majority of the Brownell Mountain parcel should remain open to hunting because the majority of the parcel is unencumbered by the state mandated 500 foot safety buffer …. However, the (commission) recommends that the town-owned land north of Sucker Brook be posted for no hunting because the 500 foot safety buffers are present in that area.”
Though the recommendation is currently limited to a small section of Brownell Mountain, the Conservation Commission left open the possibility of posting more land in the future. Andreoletti’s memo notes that the commission could recommend posting more land if an official trailhead is established at Brownell Mountain or if more hikers begin to frequent the area.
Postings at the town-owned Burnett and Hill properties could also occur if the areas become more popular for hikers or other recreationists. The Burnett property is located between I-89 and Old Creamery Road. The Hill property abuts Vermont 2A in the southern part of town.
“About half the parcel is encumbered by the 500-foot safety (buffer), but there’s no active trail system,” Andreoletti said of the Hill property. “It’s not established as a public way, so they didn’t recommend it be posted at this time.”
Conservation Commission member Ginger Isham attended the Selectboard meeting on Monday night to inform the board of the recommendation, and reiterated the points in the memo.
Residents Rick and Sue Brownell also attended the meeting, and told the Selectboard that area residents want the land posted to prohibit hunting.
Another Williston resident, Andy Freeman, spoke at the meeting to advocate for posting no hunting signs in the Hill area.
The Conservation Commission didn’t solicit public input when coming up with its recommendations, though the Selectboard expects to do so at a public meeting before making any decision on whether to post the land. No date has been set for a public meeting.
CONSERVATION COMMISSION RECOMMENDATIONS
The Conservation Commission produced the following recommendations on whether to allow hunting on parcels of land owned by the town:
Town-owned land Hunting allowed
> Burnett Property Yes
> Mud Pond Conservation Area No (hunting restricted by deed)
> Mud Pond Country Park No (hunting restricted by deed)
> Lake Iroquois Recreation District Yes (not technically owned by the town)
> Five Tree Hill Country Park No
> Brownell Mountain Yes (except no hunting north of Sucker Brook)
> Marshall High Bush Blueberry Parcel Restricted by Firearms Ordinance
> Hill Property (5035 St. George Road) Yes
> Lyons Property Restricted by Firearms Ordinance
> Mahan Farm Restricted by Firearms Ordinance