The county commissioners have instructed a recreation committee to investigate building an indoor shooting range as an alternative to a proposed outdoor range that has drawn opposition from South Carroll residents.
The commissioners assigned the Recreation and Parks Advisory Board the task Monday in response to residents' concerns that an outdoor range at the Hoods Mill Landfill could produce unacceptable noise and safety risks.
"I've reached the conclusion that there's no place left in Carroll County where we can have [an outdoor] range and noise would not affect residents," said Commissioner President Donald I. Dell.
"An indoor range sounds like it's not out of the question."
The commissioners assigned the recreation board to investigate designs of indoor shooting ranges, estimated costs for construction, and potential financing sources, such as the state's Program Open Space and firearms associations.
"We need the commissioners' support and resources to explore every possibility," said recreation board member Frank Ryan.
The commissioners encouraged county sports clubs to contribute money or expertise.
Residents of Woodbine and Cooksville in Howard County opposed the proposal for an outdoor range at the landfill, west of Route 97 and 1,000 feet north of the Howard County border, at a June 24 hearing.
They expressed concern that a range would diminish their quality of life and frustration that county officials had not established how the range would be operated.
The Carroll County Sportsmen's Association, which has worked for several years with the county to find a suitable shooting site, supports the proposal.
Members say that private shooting ranges are overcrowded and others have been abandoned because of development. Shooters need a facility for safety training and practice, they say.
Mr. Ryan emphasized that shooting has merit as a sport. A variety of people participate, not "dirty little guys in camouflage with rusty rifles," as is the common perception, he said.
Commissioner Julia W. Gouge said the proposed outdoor range option should be abandoned if "negatives" can't be mitigated.
"There's no reason citizens should have to tolerate noise if it wasn't there when they moved there," she said.
Mrs. Gouge also recommended that legislation to curtail indiscriminate outdoor shooting should accompany a proposal for a shooting range. Carroll's state delegation rejected legislation addressing the issue several years ago.
Indiscriminate shooting is "the type of thing that could turn anyone off about spending county money for a shooting range," she said.
Several South Carroll residents who attended the meeting said an indoor range would be more acceptable. They said they are suspicious of the sketchy plans for the outdoor range, partly because of past conflicts between South Carroll residents and county government.