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Residents express concerns over weapons ordinance

By Ben Rodgers
Staff Writer

HOBART – Residents came out in numbers opposed to a map that will be attached to a new firearms ordinance at the Tuesday, Feb. 20 village board meeting.

The village had two maps pertaining to the ordinance. The original, which is currently in effect, showed areas where firearms could be discharged and the updated, proposed map that ran in The Press last week showed new areas added to the map.

The village also removed language in the ordinance that would prohibit target shooting.

People showed up to express their thoughts on those two issues, which they were allowed to do when the board opened up the meeting to public comment.

“I do not in any way target shoot at my house, but boy do I respect and want that right if I choose to,” said Ryan Gabrielsen, Hobart resident.

Gabrielsen said in the future he may need to use a firearm to fend off animals eating freshly planted trees.

“I will do everything I can to drum up support and be the loudest advocate I can be on this issue,” he said.

He also said hunting for birds in open fields is part of living in certain parts of Hobart.

“I understand in Centennial Village people might be uncomfortable to hear goose hunters or turkey hunters somewhere, but that’s not different than someone moving next to a farm field and complaining about manure smelling,” Gabrielsen said.

Others argued hunting has been a way of life on their land, and they don’t want to lose that right.

“I just don’t want the right taken away from me, that I’ve had since I’ve been married 49 years, hunting on my property and I’ve only moved 1,000 feet in those 49 years,” said Bob Vandeyacht, Hobart resident.

Rich Heidel, village president, said he understood how sensitive the hunting issue was.

“It runs deep in the fabrics, culture of the area and the state,” Heidel said. “It’s part of family tradition so it does strike a nerve. We’re all sensitive to that.”

He also stressed that the ordinance has not been finalized.

“If there’s one message I want to get to the public this evening, it simply is a work in progress and peoples’ anxiety levels need to settle down a little bit,” Heidel said.

No one spoke against hunting at the meeting.

After seven people spoke on the issue the board took what they said into consideration and directed village staff to update the ordinance draft.

The things to be updated include, keeping the original map, not the one that ran in The Press, adding language which will put criteria in front of the Planning and Zoning Commission, which would handle any future changes to the map, incorporate language to notify neighbors if someone is requesting a change on the map, and finally, change language to make the ordinance applicable under state law in terms of concealed carry and children under 18 handling firearms.

The full board will review the ordinance again on March 6. A public hearing has not yet been scheduled.

For a detailed copy of the map visit tinyurl.com/HobartMap.

The board also moved ahead to rescind a recent resolution and request Brown County restore a 45 mph speed limit on Riverdale Drive (County Trunk J) through the entirety of the village.

Multiple residents expressed their concern that the lowered limit was dangerous, as drivers still continued to drive 45 to 50 mph.

The limit was originally reduced because of a residential development that fell through. Now with no development there is no need for the reduced speed, Heidel said.

The board voted 3-1 to recommend to the county that the limit be changed back.

Trustee Debbie Schumacher was the lone opposed vote. Trustee Tim Carpenter was not at the meeting.

Heidel said it could take up to two months before the county changes the limit back to 45 mph and is finalized.

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