Hopkinton select board engages on Warner gun range

  • CAITLIN ANDREWS / Monitor staffHopkinton residents listen as the select board discusses their options as abutters to a proposed indoor gun range and retail store in Warner.

Monitor staff
Published: 4/24/2017 11:21:50 PM

Hopkinton community members urged the town’s select board to use their newly granted status as abutters to oppose a proposed indoor gun range and retail shop near the town border in Warner.

Members of the board met for a special meeting Monday night to discuss if the town should weigh in on Dragonfly Holdings LLC’s proposal after the Warner Planning Board reversed their decision that the range had the potential for regional impact last week. The board invited two community members, chosen by select board member Sabrina Dunlap, who have been following the Warner proceedings to give them an idea of how Hopkinton residents feel about the issue.

According to Economic Development Committee member Matt Lane and environmental advocate Rebecca Whitley, people feel pretty simply about the issue: Not in our backyard.

“This is not even in our town, but people here feel like it’s closer to us than it is to Warner,” Lane said. “This is absolutely a NIMBY issue, it’s huge.”

The proposed site of the gun range is about two-fifths of a mile from the Hopkinton town border and is about 2 miles from the Hopkinton Middle High School. Several Hopkinton residents at last week’s Warner Planning Board public hearing on the issue brought up concerns of gun safety, environmental impact and the potential for increased traffic as reasons they opposed the gun range.

But Lane spent most of his time discussing the impact the proposal would have on the town’s economic growth, saying gun ranges can affect property values and drive away potential business. He cited an article on realtor.com titled “The Neighborhood Features That Drag Down Your Home Value – Ranked,” which stated a shooting range can bring down home values by 3.7 percent. According to the article, it’s the “idea of the place and, in some cases, the noise of gunfire, especially outdoor gun ranges,” which make people nervous, Lane read from the article.

Lane also mentioned abutter MadgeTech Inc.’s public statements that the electronics business will relocate or lose employees if the gun range goes in next door. MadgeTech is currently appealing in Merrimack Superior Court the Warner Zoning Board of Adjustment’s decision to grant Dragonfly Holdings a special exception to the zoning rules. At one point in the meeting, MadgeTech’s lawyer in the case, Paul Alfano, invited the town to join the lawsuit, saying it would add “great weight” to their case.

Select board Chairman Jim O’Brien said he has received several emails from residents who have strong opinions on the range. Despite this, he noted the town cannot view the proposed gun range in an emotional light.

“We need to consider the interests of the town overall and what higher-level issues this proposal brings up,” he said. “My gut is that the board is split on the level of engagement they want to take.”

The board will next meet with their attorney to discuss what course of action the board will take this week and make a decision on Monday, O’Brien said. If the board agrees to weigh in as abutters, a public hearing on the issue for Hopkinton residents will be held on May 8. Warner’s second public hearing on the range is scheduled for May 15.

(Caitlin Andrews can be reached at 369-3309, candrews@cmonitor.com or on Twitter at @ActualCAndrews.)

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