Although residents of Cooksville and southern Carroll County had opposed the proposal at a public hearing, a Carroll recreation and parks advisory subcommittee has recommended that Carroll pursue plans to establish an outdoor shooting range at Hoods Mill Landfill near Woodbine.
Neighbors had questioned the choice of the site at a hearing June 24, saying they feared a range would produce unacceptable noise, create accident risks, decrease property values and diminish their quality of life.
Shooting enthusiasts support the proposal, saying they need a place to practice their sport safely and to prepare for hunting season. Encroaching development has closed private ranges.
The site is west of Route 97 off Hoods Mill Road, about 1,000 feet north of Howard County.
The Carroll subcommittee did not go so far as to recommend the controversial site as appropriate, saying that details of the range's design and management should be established and revealed publicly before a decision is made.
Six subcommittee members voted unanimously Wednesday to pass the recommendation to the full, 12-member Carroll Recreation and Parks Advisory Board.
Board Chairman Clark Shaffer said the full board likely would vote at its meeting next Wednesday to make the recommendation to the Carroll commissioners, who will make the final decision.
Howard County Councilman Charles C. Feaga wrote Carroll Commissioner President Donald I. Dell, urging the Carroll commissioners to reject the proposed site.
"It is a fact that neither Howard or Carroll counties are rural to the extent that a facility of this type would go unnoticed by the residents," he wrote.
Residents' "quality of life" would suffer, and a nearby wildlife preserve would be disturbed, he wrote.
Cooksville resident George Biersdorf said he built his "dream house" 4,000 feet south of the South Branch of the Patapsco River, the county border.
"That safe and quiet place to raise children would be endangered by the range," he said. He called the proposed range an "outrageous audio assault on 50-plus Howard County homes within a one-mile radius."
The Carroll advisory board's recommendation was prefaced by a statement that Carroll County has a need for a shooting range, which should be a high priority among recreational projects.
The recreation board meets at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Carroll County Education Center, 495 S. Center St., Westminster.
Several subcommittee members visited the site and said it appeared suitable for a shooting range because it is in a valley surrounded by woods and hills.
"The site has what I consider an awful lot of potential," said member Jennifer Munch.
Mr. Dell said other sites could be considered.
Mr. Shaffer said he was "impressed" with the site and convinced that the Carroll County Sportsmen's Association is a responsible group that would do a good job managing the facility.
But he said he couldn't recommend approval of the site until specifics are developed, such as hours of operation, types of guns permitted, the facility's design and noise abatement measures.
Several Woodbine residents who attended the meeting supported Mr. Shaffer's comments.
"They could bring in howitzers and fire them off. We don't know," said Lawrence Haugh. "We don't know anything about the intentions. What is the plan and the impact?"
Carroll Department of Recreation and Parks Director John P. Little said operational details would be worked out if the site is deemed appropriate.