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Hearing on proposed hunting ban March 30

February 16, 2011 - Oxford Township is considering prohibiting the discharge of firearms and all forms of hunting in dense residential zoning districts.

But before they take any action, township officials want to discuss the idea with the public and garner its input.

That's why the township's scheduled a public hearing on the topic for 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 30 at the Oxford Veterans Memorial Civic Center (28 N. Washington St.).

"We'll have a lot of camouflage here, I'm going to guarantee you," said township Supervisor Bill Dunn.

The township is considering enacting this prohibition for all properties zoned R-1, R-2 and RM.

R-1 and R-2 are both for single family dwellings, the only difference is the former requires minimum lot sizes of 12,000 square feet, while the latter has a 25,000-square-foot lot minimum.

RM stands for multiple family and covers properties that have or allow for apartment buildings, condominiums and townhouses.

The township's zoning map can be viewed on-line by visiting www.oxfordtownship.org or in person at the township office, located at 300 Dunlap Rd., just north of Seymour Lake Rd.

Officials are considering this prohibition because of concerns voiced by Dave Yezbick, owner of Parkhurst Estates, a manufactured housing community located south of Drahner Rd. and west of M-24.

It seems there's a lot of hunting happening on a 64-acre parcel of undeveloped land bordering Parkhurst Estates to the west and Yezbick believes it's a danger to his residents and other surrounding homeowners.

"There's no fencing to this property," he said. "We have children within this area and we'd like to protect them. There's nothing to protect the children from possibly wandering up into this land and endangering them."

The property in question is currently zoned R-2 and according to Yezbick, it's being leased and used as a "hunting preserve."

"They are shooting off shotguns in this area," he said. "They're using crossbows, and bow and arrow."

Township Trustee Sue Bellairs wasn't in favor of banning hunting in this one area based solely on Yezbick's concern.

"We haven't had a resident come up here and complain about any of this stuff," she said. "Why would we change something when we haven't had any complaints?"

Certain areas of the township are already closed to hunting and the discharge of firearms. Those areas are contained in Section 30-241 of the township's Code of Ordinances.

Looking at the map of these areas, township Treasurer Joe Ferrari questioned why some subdivisions are included in the no-hunting area while others are not.

Based on the map, Ferrari indicated that it appears hunting is not prohibited in Red Barn, Oxford Woods, Lakes of Indianwood and Waterstone.

It was explained to Ferrari that although there's no township prohibition on hunting in these subdivisions, there is a state law that basically makes it illegal to hunt in these densely-populated residential areas.

State law places a "safety zone" around all occupied dwellings and buildings, meaning it is illegal to hunt or discharge a firearm, bow or crossbow within 150 yards (450 feet) of such structures without the written permission of the owner or occupant.

"Who's going to enforce that?," Ferrari asked.

"The police. It's a state law," Dunn replied.

Rather than just reviewing the hunting status of "one particular piece of property," Bellairs indicated it makes more sense to her to look at the whole map and review all the no-hunting boundaries within the township for possible changes.

"Don't just take one little piece that nobody complained about," she said. "Why would you piecemeal something?"

The last time the township considered extending the boundaries of its hunting/firearm discharge ban was September 2007, when a resident requested Section 31 be included.

Section 31 includes properties bordered by W. Drahner Rd. on the north, S. Coats Rd. to the east, Stanton Rd. to the south and Baldwin Rd. to the west.

Following an October 10, 2007 public hearing at which most residents expressed opposition to the proposed ban, township officials voted 7-0 to decline the resident's request.

CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.
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