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03/15/2017

Spurwink Rod and Gun Club operating license extended 90 days

The Spurwink Rod and Gun Club's license to operate has been extended for 90 days. The Town Council voted to extend the club's expired license at the council's meeting March 13, 2017.

The license, the first-ever issued by the town, was granted in October 2015 under a new ordinance that regulates shooting ranges. It was granted on condition that the club attain 100-percent shot containment at their Sawyer Road site, a condition certfied by Code Enforcement Officer Ben McDougal two months later.

Shooting-range licenses are valid for one year. Before expiration, members of the Firing Range Committee are supposed to reinspect the facility for compliance with the rules of the ordinance.

The ordinance itself, however, has been under review by the council's ordinance committee since the beginning of 2016, part of a comprehensive revamp of the town's committee structure. The Firing Range Committee was changed so that members are appointed by the Town Council, but no applications for 2017 appointments were received. Councilors are serving as members of the committee.

While the 90-day extension was granted unanimously, it stopped short of the six months requested by the club. "We realize the council is going to get even a little busier, so we figured rather than come back in three months and ask for another extension, we could just come back in six months and I'm sure everything will be cleaned up by then," said Mark Mayone, representing the Spurwink Rod and Gun Club.

Councilors, however, said they believed the license should be considered apart from their work on the ordinance. "I'd like to separate and decouple those two things because I don't think the ordinance revisions are really relevant to the fact that they're operating with an expired license right now," said Council Chair Jamie Garvin. He did not blame the club for the lapse ("it's more our fault than yours frankly," Garvin said), but he said he believed the license should comply with regulations that are current.

No recent complaints about the club have been reported, and one councilor, Sara Lennon, said she was "really impressed" with the club's improvements. "It seems like there's a lot less noise," said Lennon, who lives about three miles from the club. "I used to be able to hear this from my house and now I can't anymore," she said.

Mayone attributed Lennon's comments to recent improvements, some that have attracted statewide and national attention. "We're doing newer things down there, we've done some sound things down there that no one's tried anywhere in the country at least from what I've seen, and I live this stuff," Mayone said.

"You should be really proud of what's down there," he told councilors. "I hope you're as proud as I am that we have this amazing facility, right here."