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06/15/2017

Duration of shooting-range licenses extended as part of ordinance update

The Town Council on June 12, 2017 approved updates to the Shooting Range ordinance, extending the duration of range licenses and changing who is responsible for assessing ordinance compliance.

The approved changes include extending the duration of a shooting-range license from one year to three years; and, assigns the town's police department and code-enforcement officer with approving safety conditions on annual inspection.

Previously the ordinance charged a firing-range committee with inspection and reissuing licenses annually. However, during last fall's annual call for volunteers for town board's and committees, no one applied for the firing-range slots.

The shooting-range ordinance was developed and adopted in 2014 in response to decades of complaints about safety and noise by neighbors of the Spurwink Rod and Gun Club on Sawyer Road. The club, the only shooting range in town, was issued Cape Elizabeth's first shooting-range license in October 2015. In March 2017, the Town Council extended the license for 90 days pending planned revisions to the fledgling ordinance. [news article]

Representatives of the gun club lauded the updates at a public hearing June 12, but other speakers urged the council to require the design for any new construction, such as the 50- and 100-yard ranges planned for the club, be reviewed or at least inspected by experts in shooting-range safety and design.

Caitlin Jordan, a member of the council's ordinance subcommittee, said that the 50- and 100-yard ranges already have conditional license approval, and that committee members believed the inspection of new construction required for license amendments under the revised ordinance would ensure safety. Patty Grennon, ordinance-committee chair, added she believed the club has made good-faith efforts to obtain quality engineering from a local designer, "so we felt there was sufficient substance in (the license) to ensure that, and good effort made that it was going to be safe."

Here are highlights of the approved revisions: [download summary]

  • Firing Range Committee removed
  • Annual inspection and ordinance enforcement assigned to the Police Department
  • Shooting Range license duration extended from one year to three years
  • Clear explanation of license renewal procedures
  • Required insurance amount lowered from $3 million to $1 million [related article]
  • Ordinance reorganized for clarity and to match structure of other town ordinances