The town of Hopkinton and the Central New Hampshire Regional Planning Commission will get their shot at a planned indoor gun range and retail store in Warner after that town’s planning board determined the potential for regional impact Monday night.
The decision to give Hopkinton and the planning commission a voice as abutters will push back the potential for project approval for at least another two weeks.
The hearing Monday was itself postponed two weeks from its original date because the state of New Hampshire was not properly notified when the proposal went before the town’s Zoning Board of Adjustment in early March and was granted a special exception to the town’s zoning laws. The ZBA decided not to rehear Dragonfly Holdings LLC’s application, Warner Planning Board Chariman Ben Frost said. MadgeTech Inc., an abutter to the project, has appealed that decision to the state’s Supreme Court, he said.
The board voted after dozens of town officials and residents from Warner, Hopkinton and even Concord and Weare spoke. Supporters argued the project would provide a much-needed resource to the area.
“There’s a lot of us who shoot our guns outside right now, and we piss off our neighbors, scare our dogs, scare the horses,” Warner select board member Kimberley Edelmann said. “We need an indoor solution somewhere in Warner.”
And Eric Miller, owner of Dragonfly Holdings, promised nothing above a “whisper” would be heard from the range, noting he will design the range to minimize noise. One example he provided was designing the facility so the lanes for rifles, which he said will be the loudest of the guns fired at his range, will be insulated by other lanes.
The project, if approved, would be located off Interstate 89’s Exit 7, and would comprise 16 shooting lanes. Six of those lanes would be for competitive shooting, and the range could hold about 22 people at full capacity, Miller estimated. He said the range’s peak hours would be in the evenings and on weekends and could see up to 220 people in a day.
Those who opposed the project were concerned the range would be unsafe, would negatively impact local businesses, would be too close to the Hopkinton town line and schools.
Paul Alfano, who is representing MadgeTech along with another abutter, said the company is looking to expand but will find it hard to attract and retain employees with a gun range nearby. He went on to say his other client, who owns a house 318 feet away from the proposed site, has small children and would be concerned about the closeness of the range.
“You’re not going to be able to tell children to stay 318 feet away from the property,” he said. “They could be running right up to the property line.”
That abutter, Justin Carroll, lives about 300 feet from the proposed site of the shop. He said he has two daughters under age 5, and two dogs who frequently escape from his property.
“I’m worried that if one of them runs towards the range, someone might use their gun to defend themselves,” he said. “I like to shoot and go to the gun range, but I’m not comfortable with one being a stone’s throw from my home.”
Several residents from Hopkinton were concerned the project had not been considered one of regional impact in the first place. The site was originally believed to be just shy of a mile from the town’s border, but Alfano said a survey of the land showed the range would be about two-fifths of a mile away. Not only that, the range is almost 2 miles from the Hopkinton Middle/High School, and the road is frequented by the school’s running teams, said Renee Adams.
The planning board’s next meeting is May 1.
(Caitlin Andrews can be reached at 369-3309, firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @ActualCAndrews.)