Firing range plan draws Feaga's fire Councilman opposes site just across Carroll line

July 01, 1992|By James M. Coram | James M. Coram,Staff Writer

The Carroll County parks and recreation department wants to set up a shooting range at the Hoods Mill landfill on Route 97, 300 yards from the Howard County line.

That's too close to suit Howard County Councilman Charles C. Feaga, R-5th.

"I realize that this is a Carroll County land-use issue," Feaga said, "but I believe that all who reside in the immediate area must be taken into consideration regardless of which side of an imaginary line they live on."

Feaga has appealed to state Sen. Charles H. Smelser, D-4, and Del. Donald B. Elliott, R-4B, for help. The legislators serve both Carroll and Howard counties.

It is not stray bullets coming across the border that Feaga opposes -- Carroll officials say the shooters would be aiming in a northerly direction and shooting into a berm -- but the noise.

"The most important reason for not locating such a facility near a residential area is the loss of quality of life for nearby residents due to the noise factor," Feaga said.

Feaga said residents living within a mile of the range would have their "tranquillity shattered by a bombardment of echoes from the firing line. Property values would plummet as a result," he said. "It could be considered a taking [of property by the government] without benefit of compensation."

Feaga said he was concerned also that the sound of continual gunfire could adversely affect the wildlife population of deer, fox, and green and blue herons at nearby Bluestone Sanctuary, a 130-acre wildlife preserve on the Howard County side of the line.

The use of the Carroll landfill site as a shooting preserve has won support from several sportsmen's clubs, the Carroll County Sheriff's Department and the Carroll state's attorney.

The site would be of particular benefit to the Carroll County Sportsmen's Association. The association has been seeking an outdoor rifle and pistol range for six years. Also, the Sheriff's Department envisions using the site as a practice range for the gun-safety courses it offers.

Feaga said that while a Carroll range may be needed -- some residents are so desperate for a practice range they shoot guns in their backyards -- the Hoods Mill property is not the right site. Feaga asked that Smelser and Elliott "become involved in the proceedings and oppose this particular location."

Richard Soisson, assistant director of the Carroll County Parks and Recreation Department said Smelser and Elliott have not contacted Carroll officials.

Not all the testimony at last week's public hearing on the site was favorable, Soisson said. "Opposition is not exclusive to Howard County," he said.

Soisson said a parks department committee will continue to receive written testimony about the site until July 6. The only issue before the committee is whether the site is appropriate, he said. "We don't have a whole plan in place yet."

Assuming the committee recommends the site and the Carroll County Commissioners agree, the range could become operational by fall, Soisson said.

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