Cape Elizabeth gun club license gets committee endorsement

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CAPE ELIZABETH — The Firing Range Committee is recommending the Spurwink Rod and Gun Club’s license application be approved by the Town Council.

The FRC on Monday spent three hours going through each item in the gun club’s application, before deeming it complete. The committee voted to send it to the council with a positive recommendation, but also with some changes to consider.

The application, which was submitted by its due date in April, was rejected by the committee when it was first reviewed in May. On June 8 it was approved 4-1, with committee member Cathy Kline opposed.

One of the changes proposed by the FRC for councilors to consider is that the gun club alter its weekend operating hours. Councilor and committee member Jim Walsh made the suggestion and was backed by Kline and Ben Macisso.

The current hours are 8 a.m. until 30 minutes before sunset, Monday through Saturday, and noon to 30 minutes before sunset on Sunday. Walsh said it should be up to councilors to set the new hours, if they wish to make the change.

Committee member and former gun club President Mark Mayone strongly opposed the modification. Councilor and committee Chairwoman Caitlin Jordan also voted against it.

Other conditions suggested to the council involve the safety evaluator the town has hired to inspect the Sawyer Road range. In February, the town found a Georgia-based contractor who was willing to do the evaluation, but he has yet to show up.

Police Sgt. Paul Fenton, a nonvoting member of the committee, said the contractor was supposed to do the evaluation a couple weeks ago, but was delayed. He is now scheduled to complete it in “a week or two, after June 14.” The committee members said they expect it will be at least a month before a report is ready.

The FRC said councilors should ask for information about how the design of the range affects shot containment, and if the design meets the standards of the National Rifle Association.

The committee also suggested that councilors review the liability insurance of other local gun clubs. Mayone said the $3 million insurance required in Cape Elizabeth is high compared to other towns, and he finds it unfair.

“We are unduly financially harming the club,” he said.

The committee will also be sending “findings” to the council, which include the assumption that under normal circumstances the range will provide 100 percent shot containment.

Walsh and Kline didn’t support that finding. Kline said her concern is that the planned phases of gun club reconstruction, which is scheduled to be completed in 2017, don’t specify how shot containment will be achieved.

Mayone in January said about 50 percent of the construction was complete and the rest would be done when more money is raised. Baffles still need to built above the concrete walls to contain bullets, and the ground needs to be leveled with fill.

Mayone on Monday said it was “implied” that this construction would provide 100 percent shot containment.

Another finding being sent forward, also opposed by Kline, is that the “surface danger zone” is contained within the club’s property line.

On Tuesday, gun club President Tammy Walter said she is pleased with the outcome of the meeting.

“I want to thank the Firing Range Committee for all their hard work and for giving us their approval,” she said. “We are still striving to improve our range and we will continue to do so.”

Jordan said the Town Council probably won’t receive all of the recommendations before a July meeting. She said a public hearing could then be set for August and the license could be approved in September, if the application moves forward.

Kate Gardner can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or Follow her on Twitter: @katevgardner.

I'm a reporter for The Forecaster covering Freeport, Yarmouth, Chebeague Island, and Cape Elizabeth. I'm from a small town in NH no one's ever heard of. When not reporting, I can be found eating pasta and reading books, often at the same time.