Cape Elizabeth gun club likely to get conditional license

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CAPE ELIZABETH — The Town Council will wait until October to decide whether to approve a license for the Spurwink Rod and Gun Club.

But councilors on Monday said they will probably conditionally approve the license at their Oct. 14 meeting if the gun club can demonstrate 100 percent shot containment on its 25-yard range. If approved, the club could resume live fire on the range.

The Sept. 14 public hearing lasted about one hour, with most of the people who spoke saying they were against the club having it’s application approved due to safety concerns.

Councilors then spent another hour and a half going over the recommendations and findings of the Firing Range Committee.

They also discussed a July report by safety evaluator Rick LaRosa, which resulted in Police Chief Neil Williams suspending live fire at the Sawyer Road club.

The town hired LaRosa as part of the new licensing process. Although the club has existed for more than 60 years, it must register and obtain a license under an ordinance enacted in early 2014.

LaRosa in August said the club’s current design plan is inadequate.

“I am inclined to support the licensing as long as there is no resumption of live fire unless there is 100 percent shot containment,” Councilor Patty Grennon said Monday.

Councilor Jessica Sullivan agreed.

“We need 100 percent containment because then we’ll have 100 percent safety,” Sullivan said.

Councilors decided they want other conditions met, too, including proof that the club’s handbook meets the standards of the National Rifle Association, a fence around the club is repaired, and that the club’s lead management plan can be enforced.

Councilors said approving a conditional license in October would allow live fire to resume on the 25-yard range, but not on the club’s 50- and 100-yard ranges, because the longer ranges wouldn’t have 100 percent shot containment. They said they don’t want the club to have to come back to the Council for re-licensing when the other ranges have 100 percent shot containment.

Former gun club President Mark Mayone expressed disdain for residents of the nearby Cross Hill neighborhood who have complained about the club.

“I am completely disgusted by the actions of our neighbors,” Mayone said. “You should be ashamed of yourselves.”

Club President Tammy Walter added that the neighbors “have one goal … they want us gone.” 

Councilors said they don’t want the club to be shut down, and some said they understand both sides of the issue and want a solution that works for all.

“I think all Cape Elizabeth residents have a right to feel safe,” Sullivan said. “I think the gun club has the right to exist.”

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

Spurwink Rod and Gun Club President Tammy Walter on Monday, Sept. 14, asked the Cape Elizabeth Town Council to approve the club’s license at a public hearing.

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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.