AUBURN, Maine — A group tasked with monitoring the city’s firearms discharge zone could become a formal city committee, according to police Chief Phil Crowell.
Crowell briefed councilors on proposed changes to the city’s firearms discharge committee Monday.
“Basically, they are just called upon when needed, currently,” Crowell said. “The mayor asked, through the council, that we make this an official committee.”
Councilors will vote on the group’s status at their next meeting.
Crowell said the group was formed in 2005 by then-mayor Normand Guay. The proposed change would make them more formal, requiring members to meet at least once each year to review the current non-discharge zone. The seven-member board would serve three-year terms, staggered so that a third of the terms would expire each year. Membership would be balanced to include people who live inside and outside the discharge zone, and people who hold hunting licenses and people who don’t.
“We want equal representation on the committee, just so we don’t have a committee of all hunters,” Crowell said. “This gives us some fair balance.”
Discharging firearms is banned in the entire downtown, as well as much of the central part of the city. The no-discharge zone runs from Lake Auburn in the north to the Maine Turnpike in the south and from West Auburn Road to Center Street, north of downtown and from Hatch Road to the Androscoggin River, south of the downtown.
The discharge zone map was last updated in 2007, when councilors voted to include the area around Whitman Spring Road in the no-discharge area.
Crowell said he expects that the committee will have work to do this fall updating the city’s rules.
“The language in the ordinance needs some work because state law has changed,” Crowell said. “The definition of firearms has changed, for example.”
Under current rules, Crowell said BB guns and soft pellet guns, such as Airsoft rifles, are included in the ban.
“The way it is now, our ordinance prohibits a kid from going outside with an Airsoft gun,” Crowell said. “That was never our intent.”