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Appeals board rejects indoor shooting range


After weeks of controversy and debate, the Carroll County Board of Zoning Appeals on Friday rejected an application to open an indoor shooting range in Westminster.

Finksburg resident Herbert Starlings, who has been shooting as a hobby for 30 years, wanted to open the range in a portion of the former Westminster Knit Corp. factory at 535 Old Westminster Pike.

Under county regulations, the indoor shooting range required board approval because the former sewing factory is in a restricted industrial zone. The zone, Route 97 at Main Street in Westminster, is bordered on three sides by residential areas.

"We're pleased," said David Bowersox, an attorney for neighbors who opposed opening the shooting range. "We believe the board correctly determined that a variance, as well as a conditional use, was inappropriate based on the record in the case. I'm glad they did what they did."

Neither Mr. Starlings nor his attorney, Clark Shaffer, was available for comment Friday.

Mr. Bowersox and the neighbors argued at three hearings over the past month that noise from the range would lower property values in the area.

They also said the range could endanger neighbors through accidental shootings on the parking lot, large explosions should the building catch fire and by attracting undesirable people who might want to steal guns from the building.

"Everyone has heard about your basic 'smash and grab' where [criminals] back a truck into the building and smash the windows, " said David Bollinger of Ann Road, which is in the adjoining housing development. "They're gone before the police can even be notified."

Mr. Shaffer had argued that the neighbors' concerns were justified but not valid because his client had provided for security and noise reduction in his site plans.

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