Appeasing a vocal group of South Carroll residents who for years have opposed an outdoor shooting range in their neighborhood, the County Commissioners yesterday agreed to
place the range at a site near Westminster.
With the vote, the commissioners removed the outdoor shooting range from what would have been an almost certain onslaught of loud and lengthy opposition in South Carroll, but may have stepped into an equally acrimonious situation with those who live near Northern Landfill.
"It appears that the consensus is that the northern site would be preferable," Commissioner W. Benjamin Brown said before he and his two colleagues unanimously voted to support a shooting range at Northern Landfill, just east of Westminster.
The vote was followed by a question from a puzzled Shelby Paine, who, along with her husband, Harold, had led the opposition to a range at Hood's Mill Landfill in Woodbine.
"Did I hear you correctly?" she asked the commissioners. When she was assured that she had, in fact, heard correctly, she and another half-dozen opponents of the South Carroll site blurted out, "Thank you, thank you."
Yesterday's vote occurred nearly four years after the commissioners abandoned an earlier plan to place a shooting range at Northern Landfill. That plan, according to county Recreation and Parks Director Richard D. Soisson, was scrapped amid environmental concerns.
The commissioners, who earlier this year struck a deal with the Carroll Sportsmen Association to build a range, had made it clear last week that the only question to be resolved on the issue was where to build.
Their decision may have relieved Woodbine-area residents, but those living in the Tannery Manor subdivision near the Northern Landfill east of Westminster were not happy.
"On a fall day, when there aren't any leaves on the trees, you can look over and see the landfill," said Andrew Nauman, a Naugahyde Road resident for 3 1/2 years. "We're opposed to it. It seems as though the community that does the least squawking ends up getting it in their neighborhood."
Mr. Nauman said he is a gun enthusiast but noted many of the nearly 35 families in the Tannery Manor community have signed a petition opposing the gun range. He said they were concerned with noise, safety and stray bullets and shell casings.
The gun range would cost the county no more than $35,000 to build, according to county estimates.
The South Carroll Citizens' Committee and other activists have shot down range proposals at six locations over the past decade, including a 1992 proposal at Hoods Mill.
Several efforts for indoor ranges in various parts of the county also have been defeated because of community opposition or zoning restrictions, though Westminster planners have given their blessing to a proposed facility at the air business center on Route 97.
Most opposed to an outdoor range say they aren't opposed to guns in general but don't want the noise and possible danger in their neighborhood.