Gillis Falls Park proposed as site for shooting range

March 25, 1993|By Kerry O'Rourke | Kerry O'Rourke,Staff Writer

Carroll County Sportsmen's Association members, continuing their search for an outdoor shooting range, have targeted Gillis Falls Park as a possible site.

The group will meet with residents of the area at 7 p.m. April 7 at South Carroll High School, association President Steve Scherer said yesterday at a county Recreation and Parks Advisory Board meeting.

The county owns about 1,200 acres at Gillis Falls, where it plans to build a reservoir.

A county commissioner warned the sportsmen to expect opposition. Residents near Hoods Mill Landfill and Union Mills -- two sites considered for a shooting range -- opposed the idea.

"I just really feel the resistance you got in the Deep Run area [near Union Mills] will pop up anywhere in Carroll County," Commissioner Donald I. Dell said. "I think an indoor range is the only solution."

The county is considering changing its zoning laws to allow indoor shooting ranges.

Sportsmen met with Union Mills area residents March 10 and decided not to pursue their idea for a shooting range on county-owned property near Kowomu Trail and Rinehart Road after hearing opposition from neighbors concerned about increased noise, traffic and a loss of property values, Mr. Scherer said.

Last summer, South Carroll residents voiced the same objections to a shooting range at Hoods Mill Landfill.

The association's first choice for a range site is the Northern Landfill in Westminster, where the Maryland state police have a range, Mr. Scherer said. The landfill has good access, lots of land around it to serve as a buffer and is in the center of the county, he said.

Some time ago, the county examined the landfill as a possible site, said Richard J. Soisson, acting director of the county Recreation and Parks Department. But state officials worried about what might be dumped in the landfill if the public had unsupervised access, he said.

If the county were to locate a range at the landfill, it would have to spend money to build a separate access road and erect fencing, Mr. Soisson said.

Recreation and Parks Board member Frank Ryan suggested the county look for land adjoining an existing range and buy the land with state Project Open Space money.

Shooters need a public place to practice, he said.

Board Chairman Clark Shaffer said the board and county officials must carefully weigh citizen complaints when deciding where to put a shooting range.

"The mere fact that people complain about something is not a reason to turn it down," he said. "It's a balancing act."

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