Commission eyes compromise on hours

PROSPECT — The Planning and Zoning Commission is considering a limited expansion of the hours at the Prospect Gun Club’s shooting range.

The gun club filed an application earlier this year with the commission to extend the hours at the range at 221 Cheshire Road, which is near the Prospect VFW Post 8075 and the Department of Public Works garage.

The commission reached a consensus at its Oct. 7 meeting to allow the range to additionally open from 4 to 6 p.m., or half an hour before sunset, on Thursdays; and from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. the Friday after Thanksgiving.

The shooting range’s current hours are from 4 until 6 p.m., or half an hour before sunset, on Fridays; 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., or half an hour before sunset, on Saturdays; and 9 a.m. until 12 p.m. on Sunday. The club is closed on Easter Sunday.

The club sought to expand its hours to include 4 to 6 p.m., or half an hour before sunset, on Thursdays; and three additional hours on Sundays, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. In addition, the club wanted to open the range from 12 to 4 p.m. on Memorial Day, Labor Day and the Friday after Thanksgiving.

Prospect Gun Club President Jerry Williams said during a public hearing last month that the club needs more hours to accommodate a rise in members. The club has 300 members, including 200 Prospect residents, and saw a 40 percent rise in membership in 2014, he said at the time.

However, a group of residents opposed to the proposal, which was mostly made up of neighbors, complained about the noise from the shooting range, and argued that an increase in hours would impact their quality of life.

Commissioner Dave Santoro said the decibel readings during a site visit while the shooting range was open were well within the town’s regulations. After weighing concerns from both sides of the issue, he felt the limited expanded hours are a good compromise.

“I think that’s an equal balance for the gun club and for the residents’ concerns,” Santoro said. “If I was sitting there on a holiday, listening to gun shots, I think that would bother me, too. I weigh that considerably with the residents. They live there. I’m looking at it from that perspective.”

Commissioner Al Havican recommended that the commission consider allowing the club to open from 9 a.m. until 12 p.m. on Memorial Day and Labor Day, as well.

“The daytime hours are not the main problem. It seems to be the afternoon Sundays,” Havican said.

However, Commissioner Ken Kemp said he wouldn’t be in favor of allowing the club to open in the morning on holidays.

“I don’t think people want to listen to shooting while they are trying to have a picnic,” Kemp said.

While the commission reached a consensus, no official action was taken. The commission requested Land Use Inspector Tammy Deloia write the extended hours in a motion, which the commission is expected to vote on during its next meeting.

Williams said he will reserve comment on the issue until the commission has made a motion.