Rifle range fails to get zone OK

NAUGATUCK — The plan to build an indoor rifle range on Webb Road has been shot down.

The Zoning Commission voted Wednesday to deny Shelton resident Roger Spinelli’s application for a change to zoning regulations that would permit him to build the range on his Webb Road property, which is zoned for light industrial use.

Commissioners said they were worried about studies that showed indoor shooting ranges could cause lead poisoning, especially in children.

“There’s not enough information to allow it anywhere at this point,” Vice Chairwoman Diana R. Raczkowski said.

If the hazards are minor, it could be permitted in a heavy industrial zone along with other recreational facilities such as bowling alleys and pool halls, commissioners said. As most of the borough’s heavy industrial zones are along the Naugatuck River, the commission did not add an indoor shooting range to any permitted land uses, pending further information.

“It would be downtown, and we have schools downtown,” Raczkowski said.

Spinelli’s 32-acre property is in one of the light industrial zones that the borough’s 2001 Plan of Conservation and Development recommended be changed to residential. It is surrounded by residential land, including many single-family homes.

Commissioners said they did not want to expand recreational facilities to light industrial zones because many are near narrow residential streets that could not handle the additional traffic.

The Council of Governments of the Central Naugatuck Valley also recommended denying Spinelli’s application, Chairman Joseph Savarese said.

Spinelli said he had no plans to appeal the commission’s decision or continue with the shooting range plan, but he has other ideas for the empty land, on which he is currently making no money.

“The people have spoken and the commission has acted accordingly, and whatever they decide upon is fine by us,” Spinelli said. “Hopefully they’ll be more responsive to new proposals.”

Spinelli received approval from the inland wetlands and planning commissions two years ago for a 55-and-over housing complex, which he did not follow through with after the economy crashed, he said. He does not plan to resurrect that proposal, he said. He declined to elaborate on any new plans, but said he would make a new proposal within the next six months.

Neighbors, who showed up by the dozen Wednesday and last month to protest the range, said they were pleased with the commission’s decision.

“It made the most sense,” said Samuel Landsman of 220 Webb Road. “It’s the outcome we wanted to see.”