Election, first responders and bears share the spotlight

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As of this writing, the surge of over 1,600 mail-in absentee ballots has made quite an impact at Town Hall. Our town staff has mobilized for an election that, procedurally at least, is unprecedented. The Town Clerk and Registrars of Voters have followed state protocols to set up processing the ballots while also supporting in-person voting on Nov. 3 at GMHS under COVID protection protocols. They called upon an army of over 130 Granby volunteers to get trained and assist in the voting process. Many thanks to all in Granby for your volunteerism. 

Granby offers tax relief to volunteer first responders. In an important “Thank You” to our fire and ambulance volunteers, the Board of Selectmen (BOS) has approved legislation offering them a tax exemption. Qualified volunteers of the Lost Acre Fire Department (LAFD) and the Granby Ambulance Association (GAA) may receive up to $1,000 in property tax exemptions which scales up to $2,000 over three years. 

Part of Public Act 26, this program rewards these vital volunteers for the time, talent and energy that they contribute to our community safety. These volunteers help keep our taxes low, and the tax exception is one indication of the town’s appreciation of their good work.

Town hires broker Goman and York to sell former Kearns school. No one has volunteered a viable offer for the property, so the BOS has moved forward on hiring the services of Goman and York of East Hartford, to market the property. Mike Goman spoke at the Oct. 19 BOS meeting about his approach, the market conditions and other recent sales. He cautioned that in today’s commercial market, appraisal values are often not a good indicator of the amount a buyer may offer, as they may only be interested in the land and not the buildings. Any sale would have to be approved by the Boards of Selectmen and Finance, and ultimately pass a Town Meeting vote. If anyone wants a 38,722-sq.-ft. building and 33.8 acres of land, contact Goman and York.

Bear feeding issues still under discussion. Do you voluntarily and intentionally feed bears? Several residents and organizations have raised a safety issue connected to residents that do. An ordinance has been drafted by Town Hall for consideration, based on ordinances passed in Simsbury, Hartland and other towns. Both State Senator Kevin Witkos and DEEP wildlife biologist Jason Hawley have addressed the issue at recent BOS meetings, and input from Granby’s Animal Control Officer and our Chief of Police has been requested at an upcoming meeting. According to DEEP, bird feeders and trash containers are unintentional sources of bear feeding. However in Granby there are a few cases of “super-intentional” feeding that alter bear behavior and create safety concerns.

Do you know where your bears are? DEEP does! Hawley shared that DEEP has placed radio collars on many local bears and they track and record their movements. They know, factually, exactly where bears congregate unnaturally, sometimes 10–20 bears on a half-acre private lot. The tracking data confirms that intentional “food conditioning” occurs on these sites and alters bear behavior. 

Hawley confirmed that this does include one Mountain Road property in particular. He also confirmed that he has had to euthanize bears known to have been food conditioned on that property, including multiple times for bears injured by cars in front of the property. One notorious bear, that in his early days spent most of his time at that property, went on to break into and ransack a house directly across the street. The property owner has been spoken to by DEEP officials, but evidently so far refuses to curtail the activity. There is no recourse based on current state laws. A town ordinance might address this through the imposition of fines. 

Please don’t voluntarily and intentionally feed bears. But do say “thanks” to those who volunteer to help within our Granby community. 

Stay safe, Jim Lofink