February 19, 2018
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Cape Elizabeth gun club struggling to make required safety improvements

Will Graff | The Forecaster | BDN
Will Graff | The Forecaster | BDN
Club members take aim at targets at the Spurwink Rod & Gun Club on Sawyer Road in Cape Elizabeth in this November 2012 file photo.
By Kate Gardner, The Forecaster

CAPE ELIZABETH, Maine — The firing range committee will ask the Cape Elizabeth Town Council to give the Spurwink Rod and Gun Club an exception from new town regulations, so the club can start building safety walls as soon as possible.

The committee on Aug. 22 reworded the gun club ordinance, which requires the Sawyer Road club to register and apply for a license. The club submitted its application and site plan by a July 10 deadline, but a lack of funds and time are keeping it from completing other ordinance requirements.

The club has to meet safety requirements and find solutions for shot containment and noise abatement, which are the two main concerns of neighbors. The club has other requirements to meet as well, but it is struggling to find money and to find solutions for noise problems.

The club must erect 20-foot walls, but it needs the council’s approval before it can build. According to the ordinance, it has to complete the application and requirements before the council can act. Without an exception to this rule, the club would have to wait until next year to build.

At an Aug. 14 committee meeting, Code Enforcement Officer and committee member Ben McDougal said the club wouldn’t be able to build for several more months at the rate it is going. Former gun club president Mark Mayone said the club would have to wait for dry ground next spring.

As proposed, the rewritten ordinance says the code officer may approve a building permit before an application is submitted or completed, if a safety evaluation has been reviewed and approved by the committee. An expert in firing ranges, as determined by the committee, must approve the design.

The committee will bring the new wording to the Sept. 8 Town Council meeting. Councilor and committee Chairman Jamie Wagner said he doesn’t want to rush construction, but he also doesn’t what the club to wait longer than it has to.

He said “an eight-month delay wouldn’t help anyone.”

Councilor and committee member Caitlin Jordan agreed.

“We need it to be approved in September so we can have a meeting after that … and we can move forward with their application,” Jordan said.

Mayone said the club also hopes to be approved for a grant next month from the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. The money was delayed after a neighbor of the club complained to the DIFW.

DIFW told Mayone it wanted to do another site walk before approving the funding. That walk has been scheduled for Sept. 11. Mayone said he also hopes to have a sound study completed by that time.

The committee, and members of the gun club, also will take the opportunity at next month’s council meeting to discuss other concerns. Mayone and Jordan said some aspects of the new ordinance are confusing, and Jordan said she wants the council to clarify what the ordinance requires of the gun club.


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