The first hearing is on the town’s revised firearms regulations. Ever since 28 people died in neighboring Newtown last December because of one ill young man with too many guns readily available at his fingertips, town officials have been grappling with how to prevent a tragedy like that from happening in Weston.
First reactions were swift and strong; the public spoke up and everyone took a second look, then a third, a fourth. Officials drafted, discussed, the public gave input; officials listened, re-drafted, revised. The town’s gun ordinance — something no one had really looked at in years, and many never even knew existed — got more scrutiny than any town law on the books has gotten in decades.
And for good reason. This ordinance is about protecting the safety of the town’s residents. It’s not complicated; now it’s a better, clearer, more enforceable ordinance than it was six moths ago. That’s because townspeople with very differing opinions worked together respectfully.
There is one final tweak the selectmen, at the recommendation of the Police Department and Police Commission, want to make regarding target practice. Many have spoken and there has not been any dissent about the final change. The hearing on Monday is the public’s last chance to voice any concerns. But, more importantly and more likely, it’s also a final opportunity to thank the many who have spent countless hours trying their hardest to get it just right.
Another hearing on Monday is a different kind of opportunity — it’s a chance to weigh in at the beginning of what is sure to be the long and interesting process of determining whether the town should purchase a very important piece of property: the house and land adjacent to the town hall and firehouse on the northeast corner of Norfield and Weston roads.
No decisions are imminent about the purchase or use of this property, but officials need to know what taxpayers think before they move forward. There are sound, valid, and compelling reasons for making this “gateway to the town” town-owned. But money is always an issue, so the compelling reasons must be thoroughly vetted and explored, balanced against the financial implications and impact. Monday is the time to start that conversation.
The other public hearing is really perfunctory; some simple but necessary changes were made to clean up the Town Code — the literal book that lists ordinances, regulations, and policies. Changes are minor, but it’s the public’s right to know exactly what they are and to voice its opinion before they are voted into law.
The public hearing is the corner stone of small town politics. It’s where each individual gets to contribute to the governance of the whole. Don’t pass up Monday night’s three-in-one special offer to have your say.