Newport Planning Board to Consider Proposed Shooting Range

Newport — At its meeting Tuesday night, the Planning Board will consider the site plan of a proposed shooting range and also a request to subdivide the Newport Shopping Plaza property to allow for expansion of the Newport Health Center.

The board will conduct a preliminary site plan review of the proposed shooting range, which would be constructed near John Stark Highway. A decision is not expected at the Tuesday meeting, Planning and Zoning Administrator Julie Magnuson said yesterday.

The range, which has faced opposition from some residents since it was first presented to the Zoning Board of Adjustment earlier this year, would be located on the south side of the highway just west of Dartmouth Motors.

Opponents have formed an organization, Newport Safety Coalition, and are represented by Rebecca Wagner, a West Lebanon attorney.

Wagner submitted a report to the Planning and Zoning office that includes studies on environmental contamination and noise associated with shooting ranges. Those two issues, along with safety and the effect on property values, are the main points of contention between the opponents and the applicants, Sturm, Ruger & Co. and Mountain View Gun Club.

The application contains a sound study and an environmental stewardship program for the range. At a Planning Board meeting in July on a conceptual discussion, James Laboe, an attorney with the firm Orr & Reno, spoke about safeguards such as earthen berms and sound baffles to reduce noise and prevent stray bullets from leaving the range.

Much of the same presentation was made to the Zoning Board of Adjustment, but it did not allay the concerns of the opponents, who believe the noise will travel to the backyards and the lead from the bullets will cause pollution.

According to the application, the shooting area will be 550 feet from John Stark Highway, 2,325 feet from Whitcher Road to the east and 2,800 feet from Bascom Road to the south. Shooters would have their backs to John Stark Highway.

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Before the gun range is discussed, the board will consider the subdivision request by the owners of the Newport Shopping Plaza on John Stark Highway.

Magnuson said if approved, the vacant bowling alley connected to the Newport Health Center would be demolished and an addition to the clinic, which is owned by New London Hospital, would be built.

The subdivision would create about two acres for the health center, leaving about three acres for the rest of the plaza where there are several retail establishments.

A site plan for the addition would have to be submitted.

A third application the board will consider Tuesday is for the installation of solar panels at the New Hampshire Electric Cooperative Offices on Sunapee Street in Guild. The panels would be used to supply electricity for the co-op’s offices at the location.

CORRECTION

This story has been amended to correct an earlier error. The following correction ran in the Saturday, Nov. 10 edition of the Valley News:

The Newport Planning Board will conduct a preliminary site plan review hearing for a proposed shooting range at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Newport High School gymnasium. A headline accompanying a story in yesterday’s Valley News mischaracterized the panel’s plans for the meeting.