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Nervous neighbors want zoners to close gun range
Tuesday, March 22, 2005
BY REBECCA SCHMOYER
Star-Ledger Staff
About three dozen Allamuchy residents plan to attend tonight's zoning board meeting to urge officials to shut down a gun range near their neighborhood.

The New Jersey Arms Collectors Club has owned the range on Cat Swamp Road for almost 50 years, long before the area was developed.

But those who live nearby say activity at the range is putting their families at risk, said resident John Scala.

"There's no way you can make an outdoor rifle range safe for the community. It's endangering the lives of the residents," said Scala, who has lived in the area for about three years. "I just hope the town steps up to the plate and does the right thing to protect its citizens."

Charles Cutler, the township's zoning and construction officer, said there are about 25 homes within 1,000 feet of the range.

Club members will go before the board of adjustment tonight to seek approval for modifications at the range. Cutler said the club also will ask the township to deem the shooting range a permitted use for the site.

Edward Zohn, an attorney for the club, said he believes the range has a right to exist because it was there before the homes were built.

"The club's been there since 1957, and those houses have not," Zohn said. "And the club has never expanded the area where the shooting takes place."

Zohn said the 20-acre range has enough space to safely accommodate its members.

In 2003, the range became involved in controversy after a homeowner on nearby Peter Road found two bullets lodged in the side of his house.

The township temporarily suspended shooting at the site, until a Superior Court judge ruled it could resume. However, the judge also ordered the range to reapply to the zoning board.

Cutler said that after that incident, residents sought the advice of an arms expert from Picatinny Arsenal, who toured the site and concluded the range was unsafe.

Tonight's meeting, which begins at 7:30, will be held at the municipal building.
 

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I used to belong to that gun club... it's made up mostly of old timers that collect antique firearms. The range is set in the bottom of a small valley and there is about 200 or 300 yards of trees all uphill between the home and the closest impact zone. The members of the club are sticklers for shot placement, safety and don't allow FMJ ammo at the range. The house is new construction built about three years ago. The complaints started from this homeowner long before the bullet was found and before anyone moved in... and the bullets were 22 caliber. You tell me, can a bullet ricochet off a stone, piece of metal, whatever, then travel uphill through atleast 200 yards of mature hardwoods and saplings and strike a persons home... that's a magic bullet if I ever heard of one.

The town has been giving the club the runaround for about 3 years on this. They rebuilt their range with large burms all around as per the building inspectors instructions and advice from the NRA. The inspector ok'ed the range to reopen but they still had to appear before a judge to open up. The club is being railroaded in a big way.
 

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I love it when people move into an area where they know or should know that they are going to be inconvenienced and then take their complaints to the town or state like they have a legitimate gripe. People make dumb decisions building or moving into houses that will cause them grief in the long run (such as moving next to airports, firing ranges, etc.) These people should take the time to investigate what is around their house before they buy. Also we can see the club is taking extra precautions beyond what the inspector requires to make the range safer. This guy is prob. kicking himself in the butt for moving in there because of the noise and now he is whining about it. Wouldn't be surprised if he shot holes in his own house and blamed it on the range...hahaha JK! Hey honey...I just found the most perfect place to live...right next to the firing range.:D
 

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Wouldn't be surprised if he shot holes in his own house and blamed it on the range...hahaha JK!
That is precisely what many of the club members think. I talked to Angus Laidlaw a few months back (pres or vice pres of the club) and he told me it's a never ending saga with this fiasco. Things look bleak for the club.

They have tried to make every consideration even before this happened. On weekends, the range doesn't open until 10am to allow the locals to sleep in a bit.
 

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A buddy of mine in NY shoots off the deck of his cabin... nobody in his area cares. And another buddy of mine just moved to PA... he just got his carry permit... well sorta. Since he has a hunting license, he can carry his handgun anytime he is hunting or fishing. I gotta move.[mad]
 
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