Targeting a Shooting Range CARROLL COUNTY

June 17, 1993

An indoor shooting range is still looking for a home in Carroll County. News that the pending lease between Eldersburg Business Center and Top Gun Indoor Range Inc. was cancelled means Carroll's gun owners will not have any new ranges -- indoor or outdoor -- to practice their hobby any time soon.

Numerous attempts by the county to locate an outdoor public range have been unsuccessful. Proposed sites at county-owned property at Hoods Mills landfill and Union Mills as well as state-owned land at Morgan Run Natural Environment Area were all rejected because of strong community opposition. Residents complained about increased noise, traffic and possible harm to wildlife.

The county's Recreation and Parks Department is now working on plans for a $200,000 partially enclosed outdoor facility that is designed to satisfy some of the objections to the outdoor ranges. Two big hurdles must be cleared before this range can be built: its cost and finding an appropriate county-owned parcel for it.

Promoters of a private indoor range have not had better luck finding a site. While the warehouse at the Eldersburg Business Center was structurally suitable, its location presented problems. It is across from Liberty High School and next door to Super Sports, an indoor recreation complex that is popular with youths. Parents complained about danger to their children, prompting the business park owners to cancel the lease.

The difficulty in locating a shooting range is similar to the ongoing controversy in Carroll about finding a good place for hobbyists to fly model airplanes. While target practice and flying model airplanes are acceptable legal activities, nobody wants them next to his or her home or business. Ironically, the aero-modelers are exploring the possibility of flying their planes on the old Spiegel property near Union Mills -- the county-owned site that was rejected for shooting.

With only three private shooting ranges -- each with long waiting lists for membership -- Carroll needs additional ones. The issue facing the Parks and Recreation Board and the Zoning Board is finding an appropriate location where Carroll pistol and rifle owners can practice their sport. In a county of some 450 square miles, there must be a suitable spot somewhere.

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