Peterborough Shooting Club offers new shooting range after land dispute | Local News

PETERBOROUGH – The Monadnock Rod and Gun Club plans to build a new shooting range on its Jaffrey Road property, although it remains banned from using an existing shooting range after city officials said the club had violated zoning rules by expanding this site.

The new lineup aims to increase the membership of the shooting club, which President Ken Caisse said has fallen from a high of 300 to less than 20 people, and generate income to help resolve the zoning issue as well as other legal and financial challenges facing the club. These include the need to increase funds to pay the nearly $ 650,000 he owes after a judge ruled the club had illegally encroached on their property, the Fund said Monday.

Plans for the new shooting range, which La Caisse said would replace the club’s existing shooting range in the same area, include placing targets at four distances: 50 feet, 100 feet, 50 yards and 100 yards. It is also designed to reduce the environmental impact, for which the club has been sanctioned in the past, he said.

Although outside, the The new firing range would be legal under a zoning amendment approved by Peterborough voters in 2019, which limits firing ranges to indoor enclosed spaces, as its footprint is similar to that of the existing firing range and therefore may be “retained” in the updated regulations, noted the Fund.

“We were already there, we were already training,” he said. “If we were to do more than that, we would have to be inside. “

The Rifle Club has applied to Peterborough Town Planning Council for approval of the new shooting range.

A hearing in the case, originally scheduled for last week, has been postponed to November 8 so that city officials can brief Jaffrey and the Southwest Region Planning Commission of the proposal. This notice is required by state law because the club’s property at 595 Jaffrey Road abuts Jaffrey, according to town planner Danica Melone. The land use planning commission is also to be informed of the development plans in this case, and Melone said his office is also informing the town of Sharon about the project.

The shooting club’s existing shooting range has not been used since 2018, when Peterborough issued a cease and desist order to the organization for several zoning violations at the site.

The Peterborough cease-and-desist order remains in effect, however, she said. But the restriction is unlikely to prevent the shooting club from building its new lineup, according to Melone, who said planning officials could make approval of the project conditional on redress for past violations of the club, such as restoration. wetlands on the site.

“They seem to me at least very, very willing to step into the good graces of the city,” she said of the club. “They really want to work with us.

The Caisse said Monday that the club was preparing “best management practices” for the new line to prevent any future problems.

This includes placing firing targets in small concrete block structures, known as “environmental collection huts”, designed to keep bullets from burying themselves underground. The sand at the bottom of the shacks would be sifted several times a year to remove used balls, Caisse said.

“I don’t know if this is going to be a problem now, but we want to be ahead here,” he said of environmental impact measurements. “We don’t want to contaminate anything anymore.

Soil contamination is one of the many infractions that Bridgette and Scott Perry, who own 49 acres northeast of the shooting club, say the club committed by using part of their property for their shooting range and archery trails over the past decade.

As of Monday, the club had made no payment of the $ 648,402 that a Superior Court judge said owed the couple, according to their Peterborough-based attorney L. Phillips Runyon III. This judgment from the beginning of last year covers the costs, as estimated by the consultants, of the remediation of contaminated soils, the restoration of wetlands and the removal of soil from the site.

The dispute dates back to May 2018, when the shooting club sought a court ruling that it had acquired several acres of Perry property through a legal doctrine known as “adverse possession.” In certain circumstances, this doctrine allows someone to claim ownership of another’s land after having obviously used or occupied it for a long period of time.

Judge David A. Anderson of the North Branch of Hillsborough County Superior Court in Manchester, however, ruled that the club had failed to prove that they had used the land for the length of time required to claim opposing possession.

In response, the Perry’s filed counterclaims against the shooting club seeking compensation for what they said was the impact of its use of the land, including lead contamination of the soil and others, alterations to wetlands and shell debris from the firing range.

The couple have no plans for any legal action to induce these payments from the club, Runyon said on Monday. He added, however, that his customers disapproved of the proposal for a new shooting range on the site.

“We certainly plan to oppose the request to start filming there in any capacity,” he said.

The club have yet to submit a restoration plan for the agency’s review, DES spokesman Jim Martin said on Monday. He has until later this month to do so, in accordance with an administrative order of the state agency. DES regulators will take “whatever compliance action we deem necessary” if this plan is not submitted by this deadline, he said.

La Caisse said the club plan to seek an extension of that deadline as it needs more funds to complete the wetland restoration work. The club will also compensate the Perrys with any income from new membership dues, he said.

“Unless we can open and operate, we won’t be able to get any money,” he said, calling the closure of the range “huge hardships” for the organization’s finances.

Meanwhile, the financial pressure continues to mount.

After failing to pay property taxes in 2019 and 2020, the shooting club missed another payment earlier this year, according to Peterborough tax collector Beth Marsh. The club’s obligations, including accrued interest, total nearly $ 8,000, she said Monday.

City officials placed a lien on the gun club property last year over unpaid taxes, Marsh said. The club have until next June to repay the unpaid amount before Peterborough can seize their property, she said.

These debts are also among those that the shooting club hopes to satisfy with the income generated by the new range, the Caisse said. The club are working to resolve their obligations, he said, adding that the process “takes time”.

“The Monadnock Rod and Gun Club is trying to raise the bar,” he said. “And we’ll do our best to do it. “

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