Special exception denied for proposed gun range in WarnerBy MELISSA PROULX
Union Leader Correspondent
January 11. 2018 4:34PM
WARNER - A special exception for a proposed gun range was denied on a 3-2 vote Wednesday after nearly a year of controversy.
Ben Miller, the owner of the range, said he's disappointed but also grateful to all those who turned out in support in recent months.
The range would have been located on approximately three acres on the north end of Warner Road, near Exit 7 of I-89 and only about half a mile from the Hopkinton town line It would have included 16 shooting lanes, six of which would be for competitive shooters.
Wednesday's vote doesn't mean an end of the project, Miller said.
“In the coming days, we will be considering the possibility and may choose to send out a survey to those who would be interested in a private club,” he said. “This would be a completely different business plan, which would need to be analyzed at length before a decision could be made.”
Over the last few months, a medley of opinions have been voiced about the project, which was deemed to have regional impact warranting the participation of neighboring towns.
Range opponents expressed a variety of concerns mostly related to health and safety. Some brought up the proximity to Hopkinton schools.
Jack Ruderman, a resident of that town, knows most people would shoot responsibly but fretted something bad still could happen.
“All it takes is one unstable, determined individual and then you have nightmare scenario on your hands,” he said.
Those in favor of the project said the opposite.
Hopkinton resident Andy Stone said the indoor facility would be a safer place to shoot since the town already allows residents to target practice on their own property.
“That is more of a concern to me than a controlled, professional environment,” he said.
Miller envisioned a range that would primarily serve as a educational facility, providing classes for all levels of marksmanship.
That's why Miller wanted to make it a public range instead of a private one, a use that would not have required a special exception.
“I chose to make it a public one so it could be focused on the education aspect,” he said.
The denial of the special exception Wednesday was part of a court-ordered rehearing. In July, Merrimack County Superior Court found some abutters were not properly notified and given a chance to speak on the request before the zoning board.