Fort Meade neighbors take aim at time of meeting; Trapshooting, skeet plan focus of Thursday session


Residents opposed to Fort Meade's planned skeet and trapshooting range are angry over what they call the short notice of a public forum on the topic, scheduled for Thursday.

"The meeting is a week away, and they still have not notified any of the community leaders in the area," Marie B. Cook, president of the Provinces Civic Association, said Thursday. Residents said they heard about the meeting mostly through word of mouth and complained that notices in three newspapers were inadequate.

"I don't know when they are planning to notify us -- probably the 29th, so no one would come," Cook said.

The session will be from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. at McGill Community Activities Center. The building is on Zimborski Avenue, south of Mapes Road, the military post's main thoroughfare.

Post officials said they hope the four-hour session will offer information that area residents want, although the environmental report on the project probably will not be done in time.

The meeting was set up to give residents the opportunity to review preliminary information from the environmental assessment and to discuss with Fort Meade officials the proposed $175,000 range. Once the report is out, Fort Meade will hold a public hearing during a 30-day comment period.

"We want people to use [the information] to reach whatever decision they make," said Don McClow, Fort Meade spokesman.

At the forum, residents will be invited to visit tables arranged by subject to ask questions and register comments.

Once the environmental report is out and available for review, residents will have 30 days to comment.

Post officials, who want to build the Olympic-style range in the spring at the northeastern end of the post and open it to the public, have said opposition to the plan, which was unveiled in July, was ill-informed and premature.

Neighbors say they are not reassured by Fort Meade's assertions that stray shot will not reach them, and by low noise levels reported in test firing in July.

Residents fear stray shot flying near homes, a park, a shelter for women and children and an elementary school, although the range would face away from the buildings and toward the woods.

This week's session has further irritated residents, who also had expected to base their questions and comments on the environmental report.

The flier announcing this week's meeting was mailed Thursday by the Army Corps of Engineers, which is in charge of the environmental assessment. It was hand-delivered to immediate neighbors Wednesday.

Zoe Draughon, RAB co-chairwoman, said the hand-delivered fliers did not reach enough residents.

Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin, the 3rd District Democrat who has been working with both sides, urged residents to use the session to learn about the project and express their feelings.

The post has a trapshooting range, but it is in an area that is now the Patuxent Wildlife Refuge and must close by Friday.

Pub Date: 9/26/99

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