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One Down, One To Go

by Paul Saulnier
December 11, 2012

After successfully crushing Bullard Memorial Farm's efforts to establish a solar farm in their neighborhood, Bullard Street residents have set their sights on ending shooting at the Holliston Sportsmen's Association.

HSA (The Holliston Sportsmen's Association) readily joined in with residents when asked to oppose the solar farm. In existence since 1936, HSA is home to an indoor pistol range and an outdoor trap range.

They have been allowed to shoot seven days a week during daylight hours since 1958. Most activity occurs on weekends with regularly scheduled trap shooting sessions on Saturday mornings from 10:00 AM to 1:00 PM, and special events on some Sundays.

In the past, the club has hosted events geared towards families and the public. Members were shocked to hear of the neighbors' demand to shut down shooting at the property.

In a letter dated November 19, 2012, to Peter Tartakoff, Building Inspector & Zoning Compliance Agent, seventeen residents wrote:

"Residents of Bullard Street are submitting this complaint in response to repeated violations by the Holliston Sportsmen’s Association (HSA) located at 137 Bullard Street of Holliston’s Noise Performance Standards as specified in Section V-N, 4 of the Zoning By-Laws. Specifically, the By-Law states that “No use shall be permitted within the Town of Holliston which, buy(sic) reason of excessive noise therefor, would cause nuisance or hazard to persons or property.”

The letter goes on to allege that noise has increased to levels above legal limits since HSA has allowed non-members to shoot there. Residents have taken their own sound measurements and believe that they are higher than allowed by law, concluding:

"We ask that all firing of shotguns at the HSA cease immediately in order to comply with Holliston’s Noise Performance Standards."

Residents are also concerned about recent earth moving activity on the property and have asked the Conservation Commission to inspect possible violations of the Wetlands Protection Act. In a letter to Mr. Allen Rutberg, Chair – Conservation Commission, the same 17 residents wrote:

"The Conservation Commission, in exercising its responsibility to protect Holliston’s wetlands, should have had the opportunity to review the Holliston Sportsmen’s Association proposal to build a shooting range near perennial streams and associated wetlands. Residents of Bullard Street also believe the proposed shooting range will be constructed in a ground water protection area established for well # 5 off Central Street. Therefore, we believe it is appropriate for the Conservation Commission to determine if the shooting range is subject to the Wetlands Protection Act, Holliston’s Wetlands By-Laws, or/and other appropriate acts due to its proximity to these sensitive environmental areas."

The letter includes nine points they want the Commission to consider and concludes with: "Until the Conservation Commission rules on the project, we ask that all work on the project immediately cease."

In an email to residents, Tartakoff did not agree with residents and offered his opinion to the complaint addressed to him: 

"As I stated in my e-mail last week after receipt of your prior complaint, I have taken the time to look into the Town's past records as well as contact the Sportsmen's Association to get some historical information that would be pertinent to making a judgement regarding this matter. As of this date I have found sufficient information to date the Sportsmen's Association and its activities to a time before the Towns Zoning by-laws. Since the club and its activities as well as its membership population are consistent thru time, it is my opinion that they are lawfully in existence and are not required to comply with the current standards set forth in our current Zoning by-laws.
"As far as your concerns about the improvements being made to better accommodate activities that previously existed, I am not able to find any regulations in the State Building Code which would require a building permit for an earthen berm nor am I empowered to cause them to follow any of the standards mentioned in your letter of complaint. I am also of the opinion that there is no expansion involved that would trigger a site plan review process under the Zoning by-law."

Mark Heavner, one of the directors of HSA, and Frank Matyi, President of HSA, met with Conservation Agent, Chuck Katuska, on site to review the work on the earthen berm. Heavner said that Katuska found that the work did not violate the Wetland Protection Act as it was more than 100 feet away from any wetland resources. Katuska did not return a call to his office prior to publication.

Matyi recalled being approached by the solar proponents and the Bullard Street residents. He told both that "we don't have a dog in this fight" but HSA decided to support the neighbors as the neighborly thing to do. "We put signs all along our property line to support the effort to keep the field open, our members signed their petitions, and we offered our building for meetings", Matyi recalled.

Bullard Street resident Thomas Gilbert said that he is grateful for HSA's support in the past but feels that shooting on the property has increased significantly. "We understand that they have a right to be there but they have to understand that times have changed since they began and they have to be sensitive to that," Gilbert said. He is concerned about the proposed new outdoor range which he believes will direct fire towards Bullard Street. "What happens if a shot goes over the berm?" Gilbert asked.

Gilbert has been told that the issue will be discussed at the next meeting of the Conservation Commission on December 18, 2012.


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Comments (44)

I support the HSA, I live on the other side of town, but in the summer, when my windows are open, I hear shooting. It has never bothered me. Now, the folks who live on Bullard St are closer to the source of the noise, 'tis true. But it's only present during daylight hours, so it doesn't interfere with their sleeping. What's the big deal? The HSA has had a firing range for the 30+ years I have lived in Holliston.

"Times have changed since they began"? Not really. Maybe the residents of Bullard street have changed. And I'm positive that any new firing range the HSA constructs will be safe. Their insurance company will demand it.

- Peter | 8/25/14 8:37 AM

Only had to read 3 comments to find the winner. Ding ding. Watch, next theyll be going after the fire station horn that goes off at noon! Unless they live on bullard st, then theyll be too far away to care. But perhaps they drive by as it goes off, upset, they race home to bullard st running over turtles on fiske on the way. They should sell and move to marilyn. They shouldnt hear anything. Moderate that.

- Jim | 6/25/14 9:33 PM

I was one of the first residents of Bullard St in 1975. I was 13 years old then. I never had any problem with the HSA being there. I shot at the indoor range many times and always enjoyed the yearly fishing derby.

- Mike | 9/11/13 2:18 PM

As a fellow hunter and avid shooter and a 30 year member at Southboro Rod and Gun we also had similar issues with the neighbors!!

We eventually won because we had support from alot of folks and we stuck out the battle! Our rifle range was closed for more than a year but now we have a state of the art range thanks to many volunteers and hard work. This us just another attempt by the anti's to shut us down. My father in law was in the firearm business for over 40 years and one of the founding members of Goal! I worked for him for over twenty years and have seen him fight against this type of issue. Stick to your Guns

and you will prevail.

- Mike Pojani | 1/9/13 6:03 PM

I think this really comes down to one thing. When you moved to the Bullard Street area, you knew you were moving near a shooting club. That's like complaining about the noise form the airport if you bought in Chelsea. Glad I moved out. Nothing but a bunch of whiners moved to town. Buy some earplugs, turn up the TV or move.

- Eric Schermerhorn | 12/24/12 4:27 PM

Hey Y,all,I'm a resident in Holliston,and have been for several years.I would like to take this opportunity to make my voice heard on this matter as wll as a couple of the comments The "hillbilly" comment,what gives you the right to classify us as "hillbillies from Kentucky"?I myself along with my sister and our 3 young-uns are from Tennessee(flat landers)and find your comment insulting to say the least.Also,I also don't uderstand what the median home price in Holliston has to do with the HSA.I traded 2 good coon hounds(my best ones)and my old truck for the camper we live in behind my freinds house,so because I can only afford a $1500.00 camper does that mean have to move out of Holliston?I hate to jump into this being an uneducated "red-neck" but I seem to be more educated than some making these comments.Billy-Bubba X

- billy-bubba the "hillbilly" | 12/15/12 1:03 PM

Friend of the HSA, thank you for correcting my error about trap shooting. In turn, I believe you may have made an error when you state that neighbors have not attempted to contact the HSA. I believe they did reach out, and did not receive a response. I am sorry you feel so much anger as do so many others commenting, but everyone's perceptions of the complaint (or its intent) are clearly not the same. With all due respect, I don't feel the town should have to take your word for it in regard to safety. A new range should go through a review process and the activities of the club/public shooting range should be public and on file. The club after all is now open to the public every Saturday since the fall of 2011, which appears to be a significant change in operations. Further, not that anyone should have to defend their length of residency as Annemarie so eloquently pointed out, but none of the residents are newcomers to Holliston. I would venture to say that we've all lived in Holliston on average 30 years or more. Again, I am sorry that you feel so angry, and I hope that a more collaborative productive relationship between not only the neighborhood, but the larger community can be maintained. I would be more than happy to discuss further off-line. I'm sure the reporter could connect us.

- sandra | 12/14/12 3:24 PM

I hate to jump into this because I understand that the HSA was there before most of the homes in the area but I have to agree on some weekends it sounds like a reenactment of the Battle of Lexington for those who live in the area. I'm not sure if they are using automatic weapons or all firing simultaneously but it sounds disorganized. I've actually seen people duck their heads while getting into their cars after church. Maybe there could be a restriction on the number of shots per minute or limit the hours? Not too mention, I live off Central a good distance away ( /1 1 mile). Again I understand that they are grandfathered but we as taxpayers must keep in mind we are 30 minutes from Boston and not in the backwoods of Kentucky. If someone wants to act like a hill billy then please move away from a town where the median home price is 350k. Just my feelings on this. Thank You.

- Very Irritated for MANY years | 12/14/12 1:59 PM

Although I do not live on Bullard St., after reading these comments I wanted to offer some thoughts. It sounds like many of the commenters are stating that newcomers to town have no right to talk about, mention, advocate, or otherwise discuss anything about the town because we haven't lived here all of our lives. We do, however, pay taxes. We do, however, have children in the schools. We are your neighbors, your babysitters, your small business owners, and much more. And, yet, you tell us to just "shut up" that it's YOUR town, not OUR town. You call us yuppies. You insult us. Call us delusional and self-important. You refer to the year you moved to town as if there is some cut-off that makes you more of a homeowner, more of a Hollistonian than we are. "I moved here in 1969", does that mean if we moved here in 2000 we don't get to ask a question? And, yet, our collective tax-dollars funded the new police station, we keep the library going with our fundraising efforts, we donate to your food pantry, our children drop off cookies to the senior center. We are citizens - and taxpayers - of this town and make no mistake we have every right to ask, question, advocate, and argue for our point of view -whatever the issue is.

- Annemarie | 12/14/12 1:26 PM

I would like to inform a few people, Sandra, of some misinformation in these comments. No SKEET is shot at HSA, only TRAP. You should also know the 'perception' of the complaint as I believe you were part of it. It would have behooved you to work WITH the club as they did with you when you did not want the solar farm on Bullard St. It made no difference to the club if it was there but they were trying to be good neighbors to you. Believe me, there will be no target practice at the people/cars going down Bullard St., the clubs first and foremost concern is safety! As far as the noise that the one neighbor finds intolerable, what did they expect when they moved next door to a 'GUN' club!! I hear a turkey farm is looking to move onto the site that the solar farm wanted. Ever experienced the smell of turkey dung? I hope the club supports it all the way! And btw, it's 'Mr.' Tartakoff!!!

- A friend of HSA | 12/14/12 12:09 PM

When my family moved to Holliston in 1969, we didn't start demanding that our neighbors change to our liking. That would have been beyond rude and cross into selfishness.

I have fond memories of the annual clambakes and fishing contests at the HSA. While I've never used the firing range (I don't own any guns) I knew my neighbors and friends did. For some newcomer to come into town, build some gawdy mc-mansion, then expect long time residents to kow-tow to their delusions of self-importance is ridiculous.

As so many others said, if you didn't do your homework before you moved to Bullard St, then its your own damn fault. Live with your mistake.

- Bob Bolandrina | 12/14/12 9:18 AM

Townie: Sorry, but you "don't have the right" to question what the club does on it's property. Whether they choose to aim left or right, or with whomever they want is frankly none of your business.

- local Hollistonite | 12/13/12 9:48 PM

I do support the HSA. My question is this, what is the harm in having a plan of the new range reviewed by a town board and on file? Is there a downside to that, that I'm missing? All Chamberlain pines wanted to do was put a bubble over an existing tennis court and they were required to go through a review. Why wouldn't a new range need to be reviewed and filed like everything else?

- confused | 12/13/12 9:24 PM

Townie - blaming Mr. Saulnier for other people's nasty commments is akin to blaming the folks at the Bullard Farm for the high cost of electricty.

- ultra liberal | 12/13/12 6:21 PM

There is an underlying nastiness in these comments that seem to pit neighbor against neighbor, and I blame Paul Saulnier for pitching his article in the way he has "One down, One to go". This infers that the people who live on Bullard Street and Powder Horn want to effectively close down the Sportsmen's Club. Nothing could be further from the truth. There has been a change in how the club is run, or "change in use" (opening it to the public) as well as a change in the direction of the shooting. I do believe that the neighbors have a right as citizens just like you and me to question these changes and to come to an agreement with the club about how these concerns may be alleviated. Shame on you Paul for using this kind of journalism to pit people in this town against each other.

- Townie | 12/13/12 5:25 PM

Suppose I'm driving my Subaru or Prius down Bullard Street jamming to old John Denver while smoking some of the newly prescribed legal medical marijuana. What if a stray bullet pierces my door panel and strikes me in my Berkenstock? Can someone guarantee that this won't happen? Maybe I should ask my dear friend Elizabeth Warren?

- Liberally Liberal | 12/13/12 2:24 PM

In 1998 we chose to move from our Mill St. home near the Hopkinton border to our present home on Central Street on the corner of Powderhorn Lane. We did our research and purchased our home knowing that the backyard of our home which sits in Powderhorn Lane, the cul de sac that sits in back of the berm, was an "earshot" away from the Club. In 2001 I became a member of the Sportsmans Club and from 2002-2007 served as Treasurer of the Club. I can tell you from my experience with the Club that safety is the first and foremost priority!! And as Dan Holmes has indicated, the Club has acted as a cordial neighbor by self-imposing firing times during the day. Perhaps the HSA's Directors and Officers should offer Saturday Open House pistol and shotgun instructional/informational sessions specifically for Mr. Gilbert and his flock of minions.

- Alan Lisak | 12/13/12 2:02 PM

In response to Townie

Rifle and pistol balistics have hardly changed in our lifetime. There is nothing new about what the club does.

One of the reason clubs started in the first place was to provide a regulated and safe area for shooting sports, in part, this addresses your concerns about what may happen when "driving down that road at any time".

Putting this in perspective, the statistical reality in Mass is that you have a much higher possibility of dying from an insect bite than from a firearm accident.

- local Hollistonite | 12/13/12 12:57 PM

Become part of Sherborn?

- Secede | 12/13/12 12:48 PM

Yes, the Sportsmen's Club was there first and are grandfathered in. But, they are changing their specific use, which may or may not have harmful effects for any of us who might be driving down that road at any time.

We need to ask questions, such as, what kind of guns/rifles will be allowed, the velocity of such weapons and whether or not a mistake by one of the sportsmen/shooters/marksmen could bring harm to any one of the town's citizens. Can someone supply any information on this?

- Townie | 12/13/12 11:50 AM

As the mother of two young boys, who are in our public school system, and who, on any given day can turn on the news to see the tragedy of a school shooting, accidental shooting by a young person due to lack of firearms education, I feel the need to comment. HSA has been complying with Federal, State, and Town rules since 1958....and educating our young folks and older enthusiasts on the use of firearms, safety, and the fun of "Sport" shooting. My children are learning to shoot trap as a sport. They are well supervised and educated every step of the way. Our policemen use the club for training, which allows for greater protection in our lovely little town. I am grateful to the volunteers who are spending their time educating our children and others on gun safety and I have very little tolerance for small minded neighbors who chose to live near HSA and now are creating a fuss. Hate to repeat it, but you should have done your homework before choosing your residence.

- mominholliston | 12/13/12 11:07 AM

Neighbors of HSA, if you spent more time researching instead of wasting town officials time complaining about what impacts your little personal world, this is much ado about nothing.

Let me quote the first paragraph: "Section 7B. Notwithstanding the provisions of any general or special law, rule or regulation to the contrary, no owner of a rifle, pistol, silhouette, skeet, trap, blackpowder, or other similar range shall be liable in any civil action or criminal prosecution in any matter relating to noise or noise pollution resulting from use of the range, provided said owner of the range was in compliance with any applicable noise control law, ordinance or by-laws in existence at the time of the construction of such range."

Please do your homework before you buy a home….

- Do your Homework | 12/13/12 10:22 AM

And it's not all that "scenic" either.

- LT | 12/13/12 10:21 AM



- Milton Cohen | 12/13/12 8:40 AM

Here we go again- as a lifelong resident of the town, I always wonder what these people are thinking. 1- they move to a house near HHS near the football field and complain about lights and noise - High School already there. 2- Buy a house near Lowland St. - complain about truck traffic - Industrial Park already there means trucks. 3- Sportsman Club on Bullard St- Shooting range- Fishing Derby every year and other events. I am 56 and went to Fishing Derby as a little lad, and my dad went shooting every Sat. With Mr. Fred Miller (Miller School) so the Sportsman Club was there. Hello people - do some research before you move into the neighborhood. Don't try to change something that was already there for years and act surprised .

- Brett Morrison | 12/12/12 6:54 PM

Hope this group didn't pay an attorney for their misguided and ill-advised legal position.

State law protects the Holliston Sportsmen's Association from this type of annoyance.

- local Hollistonite | 12/12/12 4:22 PM

Lets make every Sunday 20 gauge only so they have a comparison!

- Eric | 12/12/12 3:54 PM

Glad to see the club standing firm, and the town supporting them. The club was there first, and has some grandfathered rights. The folks that bought there, knowing the club was there, got a discount on their home because some folks would choose not to live there simply because of the noise. So don't get a discount and then expect changes. It was there yesterday... it'll be there tomorrow.

- SupportingHSA | 12/12/12 3:34 PM

These caterwauling newcomers are as ill-informed about the law as they are about their neighborhood. The HSA is EXEMPT from the town's later-enacted noise regulations by statute: C. 214 § 7B.

These people clearly did no more research into the subject before bringing this complaint than they before buying their homes.

They should be ignored accordingly.

- Keith G. Langer | 12/12/12 3:30 PM

Move the club was here long before you yuppies

- Ken | 12/12/12 3:11 PM

So Mr. Gibert is so smart that he can provide solutions for increasing efficiency for "real-world operations, marketing new products, implementing state-of-the-art technologies, and conducting detailed cost analyses"

Yet he failed to do his homework when he purchased his home??

Cross Beacon Innovations off my list of consultants to hire..

- Matt Allen | 12/12/12 3:09 PM

As a resident of Holliston, I am truly embarrassed by these Bullard St residents who have brought forth this complaint. You shouldn't have bought your home near a sportsmen's association if you didn't want to hear the occasional noise. My husband and I will both look into joining the club to show our support, as I simply can't stand the nonsense these people have caused our town. First the perfectly quiet, environmentally friendly solar farm project, and now this. IT HAS TO STOP.

- Lara C | 12/12/12 3:07 PM

Gun clubs are valuable community resources - they preserve land in a relatively undeveloped state, put absolutely ZERO children in the schools, and place very little burden on public services. The alternative to a gun club in a sleepy little town is a new housing development or, if the town is obstructionist, a 40B affordable development. It would be a mistake to simply assume that one can force a gun club to shut down and not expect the land to subsequently be put to its highest and best economic use.

The noise issue is clear - gun clubs must comply with noise regulations in effect at the time their ranges opened, not regulations put in place since then. This is like moving next door to an airport and then demanding they change slight schedules.

- Rob | 12/12/12 2:37 PM

I am quite surprised by this. My wife bought our house near the club (not on the same road); but, we did our research before hand, and knew full well that the club was there. We checked into it, and was fine with the noise once in a while. After all, the club was there well before we were, so we could not expect them to change. Does this mean that the residents near the police and fire station will request that they no longer be able to use their sirens when responding to a call? Or the fire station will no longer be able to blow the horn at noon or during town meetings? Quite ironic that they requested HSA's help against the solar farm, and are now turning against them. Instead, they should work with them, and reach out to them. Has anyone validated if they attempted to contact HSA first?

- JackStranton | 12/12/12 1:40 PM

I am not sure this article has done justice to my perception of the complaint. A new range that changes in purpose (from skeet to pistol) and orientation (from facing away from road to toward it) should be reviewed by town officials - it will not be - because of Tartakoff's ruling. It seems to me that for town liability alone, residents should want to be sure that any new range is reviewed and determined to be safe and does not impede on ability to move freely on the abutting conservation land or private property. If something should happen, it would after all be the town (i.e. us as taxpayers) footing a bill in a law suit. The other aspect of this complaint - as I understand it - is the level of noise in the current skeet area. The decibel level is over 100 every saturday on one neighbor's property from 10-1. This has made life unbearable for this neighbor. Perhaps some sound barriers and/or other safety measures might be in order? Especially since this is no longer only a club but open to the public? This was my interpretation of the complaint, and I think this article is unnecessarily inflammatory.

- sandra | 12/12/12 12:36 PM

I am tired of these people who come to this town trying to change our little town. I worked for a company back in the 70's on Lowland streeet and the people who bought house over on Maryland and Fiske did the same thing these people are trying to do to the HSA that they did to our company force them to move elsewhere so they wouldn't have to put up with all the restrictions. Did you people buy your house in the middle of the night or what.I agree with what Mr. Holmes said shame on all you people.

- townie born and brought up here | 12/12/12 12:26 PM

I honestly think that this is something that is well within the Holliston Sportsman's Asssociations rights as landowners. It is also within the other property owners rights to complain. It is why we have a system in place where everyone's voice gets heard. The only thing is the other property owners don't have a leg to stand on because everything HSA has done is within the letter of the law. What this becomes is a squabble that takes up valuable town resources that should be spent on other things.

- Michael | 12/12/12 12:11 PM

I have a feeling their petition is going to backfire... I for one am going to look into joining the HSA in a gesture of support. The club was there when they bought their house. They knew full well what the club was and what activities occur there - and if not, that's their own fault for not doing the proper research prior to buying.

The same goes for all of us- if you don't like the neighborhood you moved into, then you should move out. Not the other way around.

- Jeff | 12/12/12 11:41 AM

The club already self-imposes restrictions on firing times in consideration of its neighbors. It's hard for me to understand how someone would purchase a home near an pre-existing Sportsmen's Club and then try and shut them down because they don't like the occasional noise. It's my understanding that the Holliston Sportsmen's Club uses their trap field, on average, once per week. Thomas Gilbert and the other residents that have signed on to this complaint should be ashamed.

- Dan Holmes | 12/12/12 11:12 AM

It's too bad that the neighbors move into an area where a club exists, and then try to change things without the full comprehension of what this organization has to offer. This organization is staffed and supported by exceptionally safe, respected citizens and volunteers it's facilities for use by local law enforcement, the Boy Scouts and the general public to train, educate and create a safer, better educated society, not only on the use of firearms, but many outdoor activities, like fishing, archery and other outdoor and educational events. For the young participants, these skills are being replaced by computer games and electronic devices. Do not let our next generation grow up without basic sportsman skills by blindly attacking facilities that provide safe and educational environments for all the community. The hours of use for shooting are more than reasonable with respect to the environment and the surrounding community. Please learn and educate yourself before striking out to stop what may, in turn, help you and your families become better informed and well-rounded citizens that support a free country.

- Jon R. | 12/12/12 10:53 AM

I have lived in Holliston since 1981. A lot of changes have occurred in those years in the 2 different houses that we have lived in on Washington St. Noise levels have increased dramatically. Jake braking in a "jake brake free zone" occurs all the time. Noise violations are daily, sometimes all day. We love our antique house and we love Holliston. We always have a choice to stay or move. We have learned to put up with and live with the increased noise. The Sportsmen's Association neighbors should not be given any more accomodation than the existing allowed firing times. At least they are not awakened in the middle of the night by a non caring truck driver using air brakes or thoughtless automobile driver honking there horns.

- Rick Rex | 12/12/12 10:51 AM

When I purchased my house(in another town), I made sure it was not located near a recycling station/dump, factory , gas station. People need to take into consideration the homes surrounding BEFORE purchasing . Since the gun club was there before their purchase , I think they may not thought thoroughly..I understand their point and take the train to work daily and think about those that purchased home "20 feet from a railroad"..

- David Keough | 12/12/12 10:27 AM

Boy -- talk about a bunch of holier than thou NIMBY'ees. I'll bet they're complaining about the noise level of the Spring peepers in their backyards in four months. Folks of this ilk usually in time turn on each other. I can't wait.

- Townie | 12/12/12 10:06 AM

These homeowners moved in long after the club was there. They come into town from the city and expect to change our way of life. If they don't like it , MOVE !

- Roger Casteli | 12/12/12 7:47 AM



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