PROSPECT — Three hours. That’s what separates Prospect Gun Club members and residents that live near the shooting range from reaching a compromise on extended shooting hours.
Now, officials have pinned their hopes on a subcommittee to possibly resolve the matter.
At the suggestion of Mayor Robert Chatfield, a subcommittee made up of two members of the Planning and Zoning Commission, two gun club members and two neighbors will meet today at 5 p.m. at Town Hall to try and iron out the final sticking point — three extra shooting hours on Sundays during the winter.
The commission voted in July to extend the hours and days club members can shoot at the range, which is located on town property behind the public works garage at 211 Cheshire Road.
The commission agreed to add Tuesdays and Wednesdays in the summer and extend the summer seasonal hours at the range an hour to 4 to 7 p.m. on Tuesdays, Wednesday, Thursdays and Fridays. The extended hours also gave the club an extra hour on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. and allowed shooting on Memorial Day and Labor Day from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.
Shooting is allowed from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Sundays during the summer.
In the winter months, the only change was an additional three hours on Sundays to 3 p.m. There is no shooting on weekdays, with the exception of the Friday after Thanksgiving, and the Saturday hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., which didn’t change.
The winter seasonal hours start and end with daylight saving time.
The commission’s decision upset neighbors who live near the range, many of whom complained that the hours are too much and the noise from the range disturbs their quality of life.
“The magnitude of the effects has been palpable,” Alice Magnarella, who lives on Tress Road, told the commission Wednesday night.
The extension was the second one granted by the commission over the past couple of years after the club took a couple measures to mitigate noise, including installing sound proofing material above the firing lines at the range.
Since the vote in July, residents, gun club members and the commission have been going back and forth over the issue and how to resolve it.
In an attempt to reach a compromise, gun club members and neighbors discussed changes to the hours. The club has offered to roll back the time the range closes an hour to 6 p.m. and limit shooting to .22 caliber guns on Tuesdays and Wednesdays during the summer months.
“The gun club felt like we were giving back a decent amount,” Prospect Gun Club President Jerry Williams told the commission Wednesday night.
However, the extra Sunday hours in the winter remain a major point of contention.
There was some discussion between the two sides about modifying the Sunday hours or limiting it to .22 caliber guns from 12 to 3 p.m. However, Williams said the club decided to keep the extra hours that were granted on Sundays the same.
“I think our group would say just build a wall,” said resident Donald Reilly, who lives on Tress Road, in reference to a suggestion the commission made at a previous meeting that the club install a sound barrier wall behind the range to help with noise.
In regards to the wall, Williams said he was concerned building it wouldn’t satisfy neighbors because they may still hear gunshots. So, he said, that’s when the club decided to reach out and open discussions with residents about a compromise.
The subcommittee is expected to report back to the full commission at its Dec. 19 meeting. If the commission decides to change the hours itself, it would have to rescind its vote from July.