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Fairways, firing ranges don't mix in Londonderry

LONDONDERRY — The owner of a local country club said he's at loss for a solution when it comes to the club's noisiest neighbors: the nearby firing ranges used by the Londonderry Fish & Game Club and the Londonderry Police Department.

Tom Kimball, owner of the Londonderry Country Club, recently contacted the Town Council in hopes of finding a solution to what he says has been a problem over two decades in the making.

Kimball told the council Monday night that the noise from nearby gunshots has been something he's dealt with since the early 1990s, but the problem has only gotten worse with the opening of the police department's firing range.

In 1990, Kimball put forward an ordinance in hopes of banning outdoor shooting within town limits, but town meeting voters rejected it.

Eighteen years later, the current police firing range was built on donated land near the town's Fish and Game Club, located off Morgan Road on the Litchfield town line.

The Londonderry Fish and Game Club, which sits about 900 feet away in a heavily wooded area abutting the Musquash Conservation Area, is a safe distance from residences, but Kimball said the sound of gunshots travels across the conservation land that separates the country club from the gun range.

&#';Right now, I really don't have an answer for you,&#'; Farrell told Kimball during Monday night's meeting. &#';But what I do know is, we're not going to find an answer by sitting here in this room.&#';

Ultimately, the council agreed that planning a public meeting sometime in the coming weeks, with councilors and town officials heading over to the country club to experience the gunshots firsthand, would be the logical step in finding a solution agreeable to all.

Kimball said he was skeptical as to whether or not a meeting would solve matters but agreed to work with the town.

&#';I've been through this so many times before: I know what my answer would be, but you don't want to do it,&#'; he said, suggesting an indoor shooting arena like the one on nearby Brown Avenue in Manchester.

&#';There's a state of the art firing range right next door, where you can go and shoot away with machine guns if you wanted to,&#'; he told Police Chief Bill Hart, who is currently also serving as interim Town Manager. &#';And there's no one there to disturb. That's where I see a solution.&#';

Kimball added that it's not just golfers who are bothered by the gunshots. He said residents living on West Road and Sarah Beth Lane have expressed concerns as well.

&#';You look in the police logs and it's there. People complain about the gunshots, not knowing where they're coming from,&#'; Kimball said.

No one from the public offered comment during this week's meeting.

Councilor Joe Green wondered whether residents might want to pursue the issue of building an indoor shooting facility in the town, and if so, would taxpayers ultimately vote in its favor?

&#';Is this a viable solution that people would want to contribute to?&#'; Green continued.

&#';It would have to be bonded, that is if it even passed before voters,&#'; Farrell replied.

Green said he'd attended a soccer game on the town's West Road fields last weekend and noted the sounds of gunshots were quite audible.

&#';It was like a cowboy shootout,&#'; he said. &#';So this does beg the question: Where do we go from here?&#';

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April Guilmet may be reached at AGuilmet@newstote.com.

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