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05/09/2017

Hearing on proposed revisions to Shooting Range ordinance set for June 12

The Town Council will hold a public hearing June 12, 2017 on proposed updates to the Shooting Range Ordinance. [tracked changes] [saved changes]

The ordinance committee, a three-member subcommittee of the Town Council, met six times during the last four months to develop proposed changes to the ordinance, adopted in 2014 to address concerns over safety at the Spurwink Rod and Gun Club on Sawyer Road. [news article]

The proposed revisions are considered technical, and include eliminating the role of the firing-range committee as well as "typical adjustments after an ordinance is used in a 'real-world' application," according to a memo from the town planner.

The firing-range committee was initially composed of a gun-club representative, a citizen at large, a certified firearms instructor and two members of the Town Council. The committee was charged with recommending applications for shooting-ranges licenses to the Town Council, inspecting ranges and recommending changes to regulations. After the first license was issued under the ordinance to the Spurwink Rod and Gun Club in 2015, committee membership was simplified to five citizens appointed by the Town Council. No one, however, applied for committee positions for 2017, Town Councilor Patty Grennon said at the council's meeting May 8.

Highlights of the proposed revisions include: [download summary]

  • Firing Range Committee removed
  • Annual inspection and ordinance enforcement assigned to the Police Department
  • Shooting Range license duration extended from one year to three years
  • Clear explanation of license renewal procedures
  • Required insurance amount lowered from $3 million to $1 million
  • Ordinance reorganized for clarity and to match structure of other town ordinances

Jessica Sullivan, who was Town Council chair when the Shooting Range regulations were adopted, lauded the recommendations of the ordinance committee, "knowing all that we went through, and how hard we tried to put something together with an emphasis on safety." Most of the original ordinance is intact, but the reorganization makes it easier to read and follow, she said. "So I think they all did, with (Town Planner Maureen O'Meara's) help, a wonderful job," Sullivan said.

Spurwink Rod and Gun Club President Tammy Walter, a resident of Sawyer Road, said she also supported the changes.

Grennon, who heads the ordinance committee, said they solicited comments from the town's code enforcement officer, police chief, neighbors of the gun club and the gun club itself during the review. "And as well we received over 20 emails from community members, so we did take all the input and make sure that we came up with a compromise and something that really turned out to be pretty agreeable," she said.