2nd Plea Filed in Range: Gun Noise Is Basis for Appeal in Newport
Newport — A second appeal was filed last week alleging the Planning Board acted “illegally and unreasonably” when it approved a site plan in February for a gun range off Route 11-103, also known as John Stark Highway.
Endicott Road resident Cynthia Jachim-Gallagher, who is also part of the appeal filed on behalf of the Newport Safety Coalition, said in her Sullivan County Superior Court filing that the gun range would forever alter the life of her family.
“My life, the life of my two sons and partner and the lives of many who enjoy the hospitality of Heartland Farm (their home) will be changed substantially by the noise that will result if the proposed gun range is constructed an allowed to operate,” Jachim-Gallagher wrote.
The Planning Board approved a site plan for the range proposed by Sturm, Ruger and Co., and the Mountain View Gun Club on a 64-acre parcel just west of Dartmouth Motors.
Much of Jachim-Gallagher’s appeal is similar in tone to the one filed by attorneys Rebecca Wagner and Michael Fischer for the NSC. While her primary concern is noise, Jachim-Gallagher said she also has “substantial concerns about the effects of the proposed site on wetlands and the possibility of lead and other contaminants traveling through the boarding stream into our farm and potentially affecting our property.”
Both appeals claim the approval was illegal because the Planning Board accepted an incomplete site plan application without a proper snow storage plan.
“The effects on wetlands, the possibility of lead contamination and other concerns that would be affected by snow storage runoff make this a significant issues that should be addressed in a public venue,” Jachim-Gallagher’s appeal states. “The Planning Board failed in its required responsibilities by allowing snow storage, a required provision, to become a mere condition after the fact.”
The appeal also addresses a condition of the Feb. 19 approval that weapons at the range shall be under .50 caliber. But Jachim-Gallagher noted that the Planning Board modified that condition at a March 7 meeting to allow an exception to the .50 caliber limit for skeet shooting. But no evidence about the potential for additional environmental and noise concerns with the higher caliber ammunition was “brought forward for public comment” and therefore the board’s decision is illegal “because it did not have evidence to support the appropriatness of higher caliber ammunition,” the appeal states.
“The site plan sound study does not address the results of noise that will happen when a single gun .50 caliber gun is fired, when it is fired multiple times nor when multiple guns are fired at the same time.”
Jachim-Gallagher also it is not clear who will use the range so the board cannot properly determine the noise level.
“It remains unclear if this is a recreational facility, a test facility, an employee benefit or a combination of all three,” Jachim-Gallagher writes.
Despite many community members testifying to their concerns about noise, “the board simply failed to fulfill its obligation to guard against such unreasonable noise pollution,” the appeal concludes, asking the court to overturn the board’s decision.
Also yesterday, James Laboe, attorney for the applicants, said the property remains under contract but has not been purchased and no work on the range could begin until all appeals are resolved.
Patrick O’Grady can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.