The county Department of Recreation and Parks has unveiled a proposal for an outdoor shooting range at the Hoods Mill Landfill in South Carroll for sports clubs.
The Carroll County Sportsmen's Association has been trying for about six years to find a suitable outdoor location for rifle and pistol shooting. Several ranges used by gun clubs have been abandoned because of development. Potential sites have been rejected because of public opposition or other concerns.
"We've bounced around, but we haven't lost sight of our goal, and that's to provide a shooting range for sportsmen in the county," said John P. Little, Recreation and Parks director, at an advisory board meeting Wednesday. "We've identified a location believe can be a reality."
The Recreation and Parks Advisory Board will accept public comment on the proposed site at 7:30 p.m. June 24 at the Carroll County Education Center, 495 S. Center St., Westminster.
If the board approves the plan, it will send the recommendation to the county commissioners. The commissioners would schedule a public hearing, said Little.
According to Little, a shooting range does not need special zoning approval at the proposed site, which is off Hoods Mill Road west of Route 97 and 1,000 feet north of the Howard County border.
Officers of the Sportsmen's Association, which has about 600 members, and the county sheriff expressed support for the location.
"We looked at four possible sites, and this one met everyone's criteria -- ours and the county's," said Steve Scherer, president of the association.
"We didn't want any problems with residents, so it had to be fairly isolated," he said. "There are no subdivisions around it. That's what makes the landfill ideal, and it's a good use of the land for recreation."
Sheriff John H. Brown said he supports the proposal "100 percent." A growing number of females, including single parents, are taking gun-safety courses offered by the Sheriff's Department, he said. The range would provide an outlet for practice and could reduce the risk of accidental shootings, he said.
"There's a lot of indiscriminate shooting going on," he said. "I'd rather see something like this than a stray bullet going into someone's house. It's a vital need for the county."
Little agreed that "a lot of illegal shooting" is taking place in South Carroll. "This will help that situation."
The range could be used to help hunters sight their rifles for the hunting season, Little said.
Sportsmen's Association Vice President Roland W. Gosnell, of Eldersburg, said some members shoot guns in their back yards because development has forced clubs to close ranges.
The proposed range would be surrounded by trees, which could muffle noise, and bounded by a hill, which could minimize safety concerns, said recreation officials.
Dave R. Fisher, a gunsmith who lives on property that abuts the landfill, said "It's a safe area. If anyone would [complain], it would be me."
Sports clubs and shooting leagues would pay for the targets and other equipment or structures needed for the range, said Little. They also would provide volunteer supervisors.
The county would provide land and grade the site. The cost to taxpayers would be "nominal," he said.