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Cape Elizabeth gun club faces new obstacles

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Cape Elizabeth gun club faces new obstacles

CAPE ELIZABETH — After almost losing a grant and learning of new registration requirements, the Spurwink Rod and Gun Club is still trying to meet the demands of the town's new gun club ordinance.

The town's firing range committee met Wednesday to discuss the club's site plan and application with former gun club President Mark Mayone, only to find that the club still has a long way to go.

Although the club submitted its registration and site plan by a July 10 deadline, following through with the plans has been a challenge, Mayone said.

The club is running out of funds to meet the requirements, President Tammy Walter said, in part because a grant for a "substantial amount" from the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife was put on hold after club neighbors complained to IFW.

Walter said she doesn't know why the IFW is concerned, but that the department now wants to do another site walk at the club. Mayone said the walk is supposed to happen by the end of August, but he hadn't been given a date.

Walter said it is ironic that the neighbors, who she said are from the Cross Hill development, would disrupt a process designed to respond to complaints they made.

"The individuals from Cross Hill who approached Inland Fisheries and Wildlife in relation to the grant based their actions on an erroneous understanding of the situation," Walter said. "In effect, they have unnecessarily interfered with our club's plans to satisfy some of their stated concerns and, as a result, have delayed our attempts to address the situation in a responsible and expeditious manner."

Not having this money is holding the club back from following through with registration and the site plan, she said, including making progress on old issues, as well as addressing the new issue brought up by the committee.

Added to the list of requirements at Wednesday's meeting was the need to hire a wetland specialist. Because the club on Sawyer Road is surrounded by wetlands, the area needs to be flagged and added to the site plan.

The club is also still trying to find solutions for shot containment and noise abatement, two of the main concerns of the neighbors. For shot containment, Mayone said the club needs to build 20-foot walls in the shooting areas. He said they are currently only 8 feet tall. For noise abatement, the club is looking to hire someone to do a noise study.

Not having the grant funding has thrown off the schedule for completing these requirements.

"I hate to use the pun 'shot to hell,' but it really is," Mayone said of the timing.

Mayone said if the club had the money, the walls could be built by Sept. 15. But the walls can't be built at all until the Town Council approves the club's license application and the Planning Board gives it building permits.

Code Enforcement Officer and committee member Ben McDougal said it's unlikely anything will be built soon.

"It's probably unrealistic to do construction within the next few months at the rate we're going," McDougal said.

Mayone said the club could have to wait until at least June 2015 to build so the ground would be dry.

Councilor and committee member Caitlin Jordan noted that before the ordinance went into effect, the gun club could have built whenever it wanted to, if it had the funds to do so.

"It's nothing they're doing wrong," Jordan said. "It's government procedure slowing them down. ... We're stopping safety improvements basically because we're using language we didn't think through."

Instead of going through the process of changing the wording of the ordinance, which could take months, Jordan suggested making an exception that would allow the club to make quicker progress on containment walls.

"The (gun club) board understands that nothing will satisfy our neighbors, short of a shutdown," Mayone said.

The next firing range committee meeting will be Aug. 22 at 4:30 p.m. at the Police Department to discuss any progress made by the club and to determine the best way to keep moving forward. 

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