Judge denies gun club's belated test appeal

Noise reduction plan is too late, Burns rules

April 05, 2002|By Sheridan Lyons | Sheridan Lyons,SUN STAFF

Deep Run Rifle and Revolver Club's request for court approval to test noise-reduction measures at its range near Union Mills was shot down yesterday by a Carroll County Circuit Court judge.

The club has been effectively closed since March 2000 when Judge Luke K. Burns Jr. ruled in favor of a group of longtime neighbors. The group filed a lawsuit in 1997 claiming the 50-year-old club recently had become a nuisance, drawing crowds from out of state with new activities that ran as late as 10 p.m. and noise levels that registered consistently above state limits.

Burns gave the club six months to reduce the noise.

Club members appealed to the Maryland Court of Special Appeals - but neglected to ask Burns or the appellate court to extend the time to reduce the noise, he noted. The higher court upheld Burns' ruling in June.

"No abatement plan was ever presented to me," Burns said yesterday in dismissing the club's motion. "They didn't ask me or either of the two appellate courts for a stay. Here we are, almost two years later ... with a request by the [club] asking me to go back.

"I'm not going to reopen this case," he said, and called the motion frivolous.

The neighbors thought the case was closed - because the club had been effectively closed for almost two years - until the new motion was filed, said their attorney, M. Evelyn Spurgin, who asked for its dismissal and for attorneys' fees.

"It is unfair to make the neighbors come back after so long," she said, and accused the other side of "bad faith."

Samantha Z. Smith, representing the club, said Burns had the authority to modify his order to allow the club to test its noise-reduction measures, which were modeled on the county's firing range.

"All the club is doing is trying to exist," she said, noting that membership has dropped from 125 to 25. The neighbors "want the club to just pack up and go home. ... They don't intend to."

The judge ordered the club to pay neighbors' attorneys' fees of $2,763.75.

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