Panel asks $200,000 for indoor/outdoor shooting range


The Carroll Recreation and Parks Board voted last night to ask the county for about $200,000 to build an indoor/outdoor shooting range as a compromise with residents who have complained about noise from outdoor ranges.

The board also voted to pursue developing a field for model-airplane enthusiasts to use at a county-owned farm near Union Mills.

The board met at the Carroll County Education Center, 495 S. Center St. in Westminster. Eleven people attended.

County parks planner Bruce H. Dutterer presented a plan for an indoor/outdoor shooting range that would reduce noise by 70 percent. The range would have 80-foot-long brick walls to enclose 10 lanes for shooting rifles and 40-foot-long brick walls to enclose 10 pistol lanes, he said. Shooters would aim at an earth berm 200 yards away.

The walls would be sound-proofed, Mr. Dutterer said. Most of the sound from a gun blast comes in the first 30 to 40 feet the bullet travels, he said.

"We fully accept this and support it," Carroll County Sportsmen's Association President Steve Scherer said. "The age-old question still remains -- where? And that's the problem."

A site for the building still must be found, but it would be on county land, said Richard J. Soisson, director of the Department of Recreation and Parks.

Residents near Hoods Mill Landfill and Gillis Falls Park in South Carroll and near the Union Mills Reservoir area in the northern part of Carroll have objected to outdoor ranges because of concerns about noise and safety.

"My feeling is, with this type of building, we're addressing all of those concerns," said Mr. Soisson.

County Commissioner Donald I. Dell suggested the indoor/outdoor range in a May 11 memo to Mr. Soisson. The commissioner said an outdoor shooting range "is probably unfeasible" because of citizen opposition.

On the model-plane issue, the board voted to look into developing the former Spiegel farm near Kowomu Trail and Rinehart Road in Union Mills as a site for an airstrip to be used by the Westminster AeroModelers Club.

Mr. Dell had suggested the board look at the site after the county received complaints from neighbors of the John Owings Landfill off Route 97 north of Westminster where the club flies now. There are fewer homes near the Spiegel farm than near the landfill, Mr. Soisson said.

In March, Carroll's commissioners voted to allow the club to continue flying for another year at the landfill -- except on the first Sunday of every month. The Recreation and Parks Board had recommended that plan after neighbors complained about noise from the radio-controlled planes.

Last night, club member Ed Goldman of Westminster said Aeromodelers "have bent over backward" to deal with neighbors' complaints.

"Somewhere along the line, the county has to say, 'Enough is enough.' These people [Aeromodelers] are taxpayers, too," he said.

Club President Ed Garrett of Westminster said members are "perfectly content" at the landfill site, but that the Spiegel farm would be safer because it is flatter.

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