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Sturm, Ruger Shows Interest in Plan

Newport Weighs Allowing Gun Range on Conservation Land

Paul Brown, Newport Town Manager and President of the Economic Corporation of Newport (ECON) points out the boundaries of the former ash landfill site owned by ECON to members of the Newport Conservation Commission Wednesday, September 25, 2013. ECON has plans to change the easement on the property to allow for a shooting range proposed by Sturm, Ruger.
Valley News - James M. Patterson
jpatterson@vnews.com
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Paul Brown, Newport Town Manager and President of the Economic Corporation of Newport (ECON) points out the boundaries of the former ash landfill site owned by ECON to members of the Newport Conservation Commission Wednesday, September 25, 2013. ECON has plans to change the easement on the property to allow for a shooting range proposed by Sturm, Ruger. Valley News - James M. Patterson jpatterson@vnews.com photo@vnews.com Purchase photo reprints »

Newport — Members of the Conservation Commission toured the potential site of a gun range Wednesday at the closed ash landfill property on Route 11-103.

Town Manager Paul Brown, standing atop the large grass-covered hill where tons of ash from the Wheelabrator incinerator in Claremont is buried, pointed out the area to the south at the bottom of the hill where the gun range could be built.

But before a gun range is considered, the Conservation Commission has to amend the conservation easement that covers about 80 percent of the nearly 100-acre parcel. The easement, put in place after Newport acquired the property in 2006, requires that it remain open land with no commercial or industrial activity permitted.

The concern among many residents at the time was the possibility the site could reopen to accept ash or solid waste. The buried ash is on about 5 acres of the property.

The property not under the easement extends north toward Route 11-103. Though a range could be built there, Brown said placing the range down behind the hill where the ash is buried would make it “safer and better.”

He also said the hill would provide a sound buffer.

The proposed amendment to the easement would cover property that snakes around the ash hill and continues east along the bottom of the hill. It does not border the Sugar River Recreation Trail.

Brown said he walked the property with Sturm, Ruger officials and they said they would be interested in the site if it became available.

Last week the Selectboard endorsed the easement amendment and the gun range concept.

Brown said until he has a map of the area, he could not say how many acres would be needed for the range.

“This is listed as a Sturm, Ruger project but if that fails, I want to try to bring in someone else,” Brown said. “We want to start using the property.”

Last week Brown said most of the property in the easement is not needed for the required monitoring of the landfill. He said developing the property would mean more tax revenue for the town.

Earlier this year, Ruger and the Mountain View Gun Club won approval to build a range on Route 11-103 near Dartmouth Motors but later withdrew the application, without explanation, in the middle of an appeal in Sullivan County Superior Court by gun range opponents.

The Economic Corporation of Newport, owns the landfill property and would lease the gun range parcel to Ruger, or any other tenant, said Brown, who is president of the group. ECON would receive the lease payments but taxes on improvements to the property would be paid to the town.

Conservation Commission Chairman Richard Wentzel said Wednesday that they would make a decision on the request at their meeting Tuesday at 6 p.m. It is tentatively planned to be held in the community room of the Sugar River Savings Bank. The public is invited to comment.

Patrick O’Grady can be reached at ogrady56@yahoo.com.