Cape Elizabeth shooting range won't need annual review

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CAPE ELIZABETH — The license renewal granted to the Spurwink Rod & Gun Club to operate its shooting range may be for three years instead of one year, as the Town Council’s Ordinance Committee writes new rules governing the club.

The club, at 1250 Sawyer Road, is one of the oldest clubs of its kind in southern Maine and has had a frosty relationship with neighbors concerned about noise and safety issues.

Its most recent problem arose earlier this month when the club’s license lapsed and no one noticed.

Now, as the committee crafts a new ordinance, councilors on that panel agree the club’s license can be issued for a three-year period, rather than a one-year term.

Club Public Information Officer Mark Mayone asked for the license extension March 23, telling Town Planner Maureen O’Meara and Councilors Caitlin Jordan, Kathy Ray and committee Chairwoman Patricia Grennon that no one has their home inspected every year.

“We don’t ask homeowners to get a re-occupancy period every three years and there’s a lot more accidents that happen at home than ever at a range,” Mayone said.

The council committee agreed with Mayone’s request, after several concerns over safety were discussed.

Previously, stray bullets accidentally found their way into people’s yards. Some neighbors, such as Cathy Kline, remain unconvinced the club offers a safe environment, although improvements were made in 2015 to improve shot containment.

“I urge you to be cautious with regard to public safety,” the Cross Road resident said. “So any shooting range be designed so it prevents any bullets from escaping.”

Police Chief Neil Williams said, to some residents’ dismay, that an accidental discharge in the air that lands elsewhere is just that – an accident.

Williams also rejected an offer by club President Tammy Walter for Cape Elizabeth police officers to annually complete firearm practice at the club. Although the state requires police officers to be certified annually in firearms use, that would represent a conflict of interest, he said. 

O’Meara said the police chief will be the person responsible for reviewing operations at the club, conducting background checks and other tasks related to the club’s certification.

She added it is up to the club, like any other organization, to keep track of when its license to operate expires. She said it is not the town’s obligation to send a reminder.

The ordinance’s text, meanwhile, remains a work in progress. The Ordinance Committee is set to meet from 12:15-1:30 p.m. April 4, at Town Hall, and O’Meara said the rewriting  is “to clarify things, not to weaken things.”

Lisa D. Connell can be reached at 781-3661, ext. 183 or Follow Lisa on Twitter: @connell_ld.

Spurwink Rod & Gun Club spokesman Mark Mayone and President Tammy Walter.