Editor’s note: This information was originally reported by WestfordCAT on April 11. It has since been updated as of April 25 to reflect changes to the proposal. We will continue to include this additional context in future updates as the bylaw continues consideration and will amend it as the proposal is updated by the Town of Westford.
WESTFORD — A proposed zoning bylaw — which would regulate new firearms dealerships in Westford — has received a number of updates.
The proposed bylaw, which would regulate future firearms businesses that could open in town, would not impact businesses that have already received preliminary approval, such as a future shop at 359 Littleton Rd.
The draft bylaw could limit new businesses within 500 feet of schools, child care centers, religious institutions or existing firearms businesses.
The draft bylaw would not impact sportsmen’s clubs, such as the Westford Sportsmen’s Club or Stony Brook Fish and Game Association.
Under the draft bylaw, new firearms businesses would be allowed under a special permit in the Commercial Highway and Industrial Highway districts. Both zoning districts fall along the Littleton Road corridor.
The proposal could limit the number of firearms businesses within Westford at one given time. Currently, the draft bylaw would now allow four special permits for firearms businesses within the town, up from three in the original draft proposal and reduced from five in the previous proposal.
The town could not impose a moratorium on new firearm businesses during discussions on the proposed bylaw and before consideration at Town Meeting, according to town counsel.
A number of changes have been made to the proposed bylaw, which returns for consideration during a meeting with the Select Board April 25 at 7 p.m.
Under the most recent proposal, the Planning Board would be the sole Special Permit Granting Authority for future firearms businesses.
Additionally, the Planning Board could impose a number of criteria for a proposed firearms business that falls within 500 feet of a facility that “serves persons under age 18 who commonly congregate to participate in scheduled and structured activities.” These criteria include:
- Whether children congregate at a specific place according to a schedule.
- How frequently children congregate at the specific location in such scheduled and structured activities.
- Whether the purpose of congregating is for an activity designed for or targeted towards children.
- Whether the children congregate in groups of six or more.
- Information contained within the purpose sections of Business Certificates and/or Articles of Organization filed with the Corporations Division of the Secretary of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
These criteria do not apply to one-on-one instructional services or facilities where children “may happen to congregate but not in a structured, scheduled manner.”
Under the proposal, businesses would need to submit a security plan as well as an operations and management plan to the Westford Police Department.
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