Proposed shooting range hinges on Route 97 access State's reaction called 'lukewarm'

September 29, 1993|By Kerry O'Rourke | Kerry O'Rourke,Staff Writer

Access to Route 97 will be one major hurdle Carroll gun enthusiasts must overcome to open a shooting range at Morgan Run Natural Environment Area, county officials said yesterday.

Route 97 is a limited-access road, and it may be hard to persuade State Highway Administration officials to allow a turn-off lane to be built to provide access to the range, said Robert A. Bair Jr., the county commission's administrative assistant.

The Carroll County Sportsmen's Association has proposed building an outdoor shooting range in an isolated part of Morgan Run near routes 32 and 97. Members said a parcel on the east side of Route 97, a mile south of Route 32, would be a good site for the range.

The site is on a 77-acre parcel in the northern part of the state park.

Association Treasurer C. D. Baker Jr. of Hampstead described the parcel as an island. The Sportsmen's Association proposes using two or three acres of the site for the range.

Building a turn lane would cost $50,000 to $70,000, Carroll Department of Recreation and Parks Director Richard J. Soisson said.

Before a shooting range can be built, however, the county must get permission from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.

Carroll would lease the land from the state, and the Sportsmen's Association would operate the range, Mr. Soisson said.

He said he talked with Steve Sholl, assistant director of operations for the Maryland Park Service, about the plan and "received a lukewarm response at best."

Mr. Sholl could not be reached for comment yesterday.

State officials proposed a range at Morgan Run last year when they were drafting a master plan for the park, but neighbors objected. The state had proposed a range at a site off Oak Tree Road, which was close to Clearview Airpark and many homes.

The nearest home to the proposed site off Route 97 is 3,000 feet, or more than a half-mile, away, Mr. Baker said.

Sportsmen should expect opposition, though, Mr. Soisson said.

Gun enthusiasts have been looking for a site for an outdoor range for years. They have explored sites at Hoods Mill Landfill, near the proposed Gillis Falls Reservoir and at a Union Mills farm.

Neighbors at each location objected, citing noise and danger to wildlife.

Last spring, the sportsmen and the county agreed to an indoor/out door range that would muffle noise from the guns. The Recreation and Parks Board proposed spending $220,000 in the next fiscal year to build a range, but no sites had been discussed.

However, last week, the sportsmen told the board they had been talking with DNR officials about building an outdoor range at Morgan Run. The board voted unanimously to let the Sportsmen's Association continue working with DNR officials but said the public should have input before any decision is made.

Yesterday, Mr. Baker said the association will write to Natural Resources Secretary Torrey C. Brown to ask that the park's master plan be amended to allow a shooting range.

"You get the right people working on it, and you can certainly get amendments," Mr. Baker said.

"We'll have to wait and see what DNR has to say about it," Mr. Soisson said.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.