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Rifle range agreement is near.

Byline: Lynne Klaft; Karen Nugent

LANCASTER - Clinton and Lancaster are two board votes away from setting ground rules allowing the Clinton Police Department to use the former firing range as a training and shooting qualification gun range. Police use of the range, which has gone on for decades, has recently sparked renewed animosity in nearby neighborhoods in both towns, as well as among officials.

A pending memorandum of understanding setting guidelines for use of the 12.3-acre range, which is on the Clinton line and owned by the town of Clinton, is expected to be approved by selectmen in the two towns. Lancaster's board will meet tonight; Clinton has a meeting scheduled for Tuesday.

If the agreement is approved as expected, a September cease-and-desist order against the Clinton police issued by the Lancaster zoning enforcement officer will be amended, permitting them to use the range under the following conditions:

The range, also called the Brandli parcel, will be used for officer training and firearms qualification only.

Police use will be restricted to 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday, with the exception of night training, which will not exceed four nights per calendar year. Shooting on Sundays and holidays will be prohibited.

Just before use, Clinton officers must log in with the Clinton police dispatcher, giving the date, time, and estimated duration of use. After receiving such a call, the Clinton dispatcher must immediately call the Lancaster police dispatcher and provide the information.

For qualification shooting, Clinton police must inform the Lancaster Police Department of their intended use of the range five days in advance.

Only Clinton Police Department-approved firearms will be permitted.

The memorandum, dated Monday, was hammered out by Lancaster Town Administrator Orlando Pacheco; lawyers from both towns; Clinton Police Chief Mark R. Laverdure, who was angered last month when the cease-and-desist order arrived unexpectedly at the start of the semiannual qualification training period in October; and Lancaster Police Chief Kevin D. Lamb.

Mr. Pacheco said both chiefs agreed to the plan, although Lancaster police train at a different range, off Pine Hill Road in Lancaster.

Chief Laverdure declined to comment on the agreement yesterday because it has not been signed by selectmen.

A previous cease-and-desist order, issued in April 2007 against the Clinton Fish & Game Protective Association, which holds the lease to the property, stopped recreational shooting within the residential area and was upheld by the Lancaster Zoning Board of Appeals.

Since the second cease-and-desist order was issued, town officials from both towns have met to discuss an agreement that was workable on both sides.

"The memorandum of understanding as it will be presented to both boards is intended to be straightforward, with the appropriate notification to Lancaster, and will give the town of Clinton the flexibility to use the site as they need to," Mr. Pacheco said. "Once we were able to sit down with counsel and the chiefs, it was easy coming to a win-win."
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Title Annotation:LOCAL NEWS
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Nov 5, 2009
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