gun law passes
By Kathie Godfrey
LOWELL - The Town Council gave preliminary approval to a somewhat
diluted amendment to its firearms ordinance last week in response to
protests earlier this month that many residents (and non-residents)
feared the loss of their right to bear arms on town property.
The objections of more than 100 attendees were sparked at a
council meeting two weeks ago when the town had considered a draft
amendment that would have prohibited the carrying of firearms on all
town-owned property, including the Town Hall, town parks and municipal
The amendment as it currently stands will make it
unlawful to carry a firearm into the Town Hall only when the Town Court
is in session, with exceptions for duly-authorized judicial and police
officers and members of the armed forces.
With promised revisions the new ordinance will also
give the nod to "sanctioned shoots" as approved by Police
Chief David Wilson.
The new amendment follows a Dec. 19 meeting between
Wilson and residents Paul Anderson, Craig Earley and others during which
concerns for the future of backyard archery and air rifle team practice
within town limits were addressed.
Anderson, a 4-H shooting sports coordinator and
member of the Traffic Commission, said he felt the rewritten amendment
was acceptable, but would still like to see a couple of issues
"I don't feel this would infringe on my rights
as a citizen of Lowell," he said.
Wilson said the amended ordinance would protect
"This will permit activities that would have
been stopped to continue," he said in reference to sanctioned
shooting in town.
Earley again questioned why any changes to the
original ordinance were needed.
"I've had a concealed carry permit for 20 years
and my 8-year-old son feels safe when we visit the parks because of
it," he said following the meeting.
Wilson, however, said he has concerns about
enforcement of the ordinance with regard to gang members who could
lawfully carry guns into town parks.
"We've made some arrests in town of people who
said they were gang members," he explained Tuesday. "We should
have an ordinance that is enforceable if we need it. The original
ordinance was written in 1917. We need to do something."
Wilson said more recommendations to the council will
In other business, the council narrowly passed the
2001 salary ordinance with a 3-2 vote.
Dissenting council members Karen Brooker (R-2nd) and
Ray Talarek (R-1st) both said salary hikes of $900 for councilmen and
$1,000 for the council president and the clerk-treasurer's salary of
$48,000 were "excessive."
"I would have approved a smaller increase,"
Brooker, who had compared the salaries of town
personnel in similar communities, said she would like to hold the annual
increases to 3 percent or less.
law to make tax deals tougher
By Andrew Steele
Star Managing Editor
CROWN POINT - The City Council is reviewing a new procedure for
awarding tax abatements that officials hope will allow a stricter
application of the criteria they demand of companies that request the
The new procedure will require business owners to
fill out an application and pay a $250 non-refundable fee at the
clerk-treasurer's office, then pay an additional fee to cover the costs
of the annual review if a tax abatement is awarded. The latter fee is
refundable if no abatement is granted.
The next step is for a new Economic Advisory Council
to hold a hearing to review the application. The council will be made up
of the mayor, planning director, city engineer, city attorney, and
The council will file a written report within 15 days
of its hearing, and the City Council's Human Resources and Economic
Development Committee will then consider the abatement.
That body will review the application and make a
recommendation to the full City Council.
The council will then make a decision on awarding an
"You are totally flexible at that point as to
any stipulations you want to place on that abatement," City
Attorney John Kopack said at the council's Dec. 27 meeting.
Tax abatements discount the city's portion of
property taxes on personal property. The abatements have in the past
been awarded for 10 years, with the discount declining by 10 percent
Once an abatement is granted, the City Council
reviews it each year to make sure the business has fulfilled its
commitments for such things as employment and payroll.
Council members wanted to review the ordinance before
giving it final approval. Among other things, concern was expressed
about the fee level.
For a business asking for a 10-year abatement, a
$1,150 fee would be required upfront. While $900 of that would be
refunded if that abatement were not granted, some council members were
afraid some businesses would be deterred from applying for an
The council will hold a final vote on the ordinance
at its Jan. 8 meeting.