Monadnock Rod and Gun Club must halt shooting eventsBy DAMIEN FISHER
Union Leader Correspondent
September 18. 2018 8:01PM
PETERBOROUGH — Don’t bring your guns to town — or at least not to the Monadnock Rod and Gun Club range as it’s been shut down due to a cease-and-desist order from Town Hall.
Peterborough Deputy Town Administrator Nicole MacStay said this week the club appears to have been expanding its firearms range in violation of zoning rules, constructing at least one building without a permit and backfilling wetlands. Each violation could have been avoided had club leadership initially checked with the town, she said.
“They should have come to the town as they’ve done in the past,” MacStay said.
The cease-and-desist order from the town came after months of back and forth between the town and club leadership. The club is currently embroiled in a property line dispute with an adjacent property owner over the gun range expansion. Now it must cease all firearm operations.
“We have been forced to cancel all activities related to the range’s use, like the Weekly Rimfire Shoots that were open to the public, a BSA Merit Badge and training shoot, several Crotched Mountain CMARS Rehabilitative shooting events, our Member’s Day Ruger Public invite shoot, the RWVA Appleseed Riflery Training shoots and, at this point, our annual Turkey Shoot and perhaps a benefit shoot for the Monadnock Squadron Civil Air Patrol as we conducted last fall. That, unfortunately, includes sighting-in for hunting season,” club president Mark Carbone said in a statement released on the club’s website.
The club was grandfathered in under Peterborough’s zoning regulations, dating back to the 1970s when the town first adopted zoning. The club, founded in the 1940s, was considered to have a right to operate the gun range as is regardless of the town’s current zoning rules.
Over the summer, town officials became aware of the alleged violations at the club, including expanding the grandfathered gun range, according to a statement from Town Administrator Rodney Bartlett.
“The Town learned that the Club’s expansion may have included crossing boundary lines onto a neighbor’s property, removing trees and filling wetlands,” Bartlett said. “The Town also learned that the Club may have erected structures on the property without obtaining required permits or approvals.”
The town repeatedly tried to receive permission from the club to inspect the property, MacStay said, but was repeatedly denied. Finally, town officials obtained an administrative search warrant in order to inspect the property.
MacStay said that the wetlands violations have been referred to the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services for further investigation.
The club remains open for all non-firearms related activities, but its likely that events like hunter safety training will be halted.
“At our August New Hampshire Fish and Game class, we were not able to conduct live-fire training for the first time ever,” Carbone said. “The added experience is one that we certainly missed providing for our students.”
Carbone is asking members to help chip in for the club’s legal defense in the property dispute case, which is headed for trial in Hillsborough Superior Court - North in Manchester. He’s also asking members to renew their dues for 2019 as soon as possible to help with the legal costs. The town is not taking a side in the lawsuit.