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Granby aims to leave South Hadley Fire District 2

Town officials and residents say the arrangement dates back to the early 1900s, when the fire department was all-volunteer, which is no longer the case.

The measure, known as a “home rule petition,” was brought before a hearing with the joint committee on Municipalities and Regional Government in Boston May 14. State Sen. Gale Kindaras and state Rep. John Scibak, acting on behalf of Granby residents, brought the petition to the panel. The committee heard testimony from South Hadley Fire District 2 Chief David Keefe and John Georgio, a Kopelman and Paige lawyer who represented the town.

The next step is for the committee to make a decision after it debates the matter in executive session, which Scibak said could take some months.

“It could happen at their next meeting or it might not happen until February,” Scibak said. “It’s up to the state now.”

According to Granby Town Administrator Christopher Martin, there are 144 homes in Granby that are a part of South Hadley Fire District 2. Residents of this section want to secede from Fire District 2 because essentially they pay taxes for both the South Hadley Fire Department and the Granby Fire Department.

“They are district taxed to South Hadley and then they pay the regular real estate tax to Granby,” Martin said.

The issue first came to the town’s attention when David LePlante, a resident of District 2, found out that he could not abate one of the two taxes. The issue was brought to town meeting May 13, where town meeting members voted for the Select Board to instruct Granby’s state representative to file a home rule petition for a special act to change the district lines so that Granby residents of South Hadley Fire District 2 would now be a part of the Granby fire district.

Martin said the issue goes back to the early 1900s, when landowners in that part of town petitioned to be a part of Fire District 2.

“At the time, Granby had a volunteer fire department,” Martin said, “and people in that part of town wanted to be a part of South Hadley Fire District 2 thought they would get a quicker response from the South Hadley Fire Department.”

There are no real benefits for Granby citizens to remain a part of the South Hadley district, according to Martin.

The only objections to the petition came from South Hadley District 2, which had representatives at Granby Town Meeting. District 2 would face a loss of revenue if those 144 homes seceded.

Martin said he was surprised at how quickly the petition was brought before the state, as it was only voted on May 13.

“Residents are hoping that the House and Senate support the position and make a special act to redraw the district lines,” Martin said.

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