Monadnock Rod and Gun club appeals zoning vote that bans outdoor ranges

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 7/1/2019 8:51:37 PM

The Monadnock Rod and Gun Club filed a request to rehear a zoning decision banning outdoor gun clubs, claiming the town didn’t make it clear enough what residents were voting for.

The appeal relates to the town’s ballot voting on May 14, and specifically to zoning amendment 1, which added multiple new definitions to the town’s zoning code.

One of the added definitions was “recreational facility,” and the purpose of the ordinance, according to language on the ballot was to “add greater clarity to the Zoning Ordinance and specificity to the existing use definitions being modified.”

However, the definition for “recreational facility” specified that shooting ranges shall be required to be entirely enclosed indoor facilities – a new requirement not previously addressed in the ordinance.

Monadnock Rod and Gun Club in Peterborough is now protesting the amendment, asking the town to reconsider the amendment.

Through its attorneys, Thomas Hanna and Jason Reimers of BCM Environmental and Land Law, the club has filed a motion for a rehearing, asking the town to schedule a special Town Meeting to re-vote the matter.

“There was no way from reading the ballot that you would know what you were voting on,” Hanna said Monday. “In this case, the language was totally inadequate to give reasonable notice to the voters, and that's a requirement of the law.”

In the motion for rehearing, Hanna and Reimers argued the language “misled” voters “by indicating that the proposed new language regarding shooting ranges was merely a modification or clarification...”

“This is no clarification whatsoever. This was an ordinance amendment. Which is another reason why the ballot and the notice of the article were wholly insufficient,” Hanna said. 

The Monadnock Rod and Gun Club’s outdoor shooting range is currently the basis of litigation between the club and the town. The town alleges the outdoor range was relocated and expanded without approval by the town’s code enforcement officer, going through a site plan review or obtaining a building permit. The town also alleges wetlands were filled without permits or approvals, as well as the expansion bringing the range into the groundwater protection zone, which prohibits disposing of lead which could contaminate the soil. 

The state provides an avenue for residents to request rehearings of decisions, including those made at the ballot box. This is the second zoning amendment to draw controversy, with another group challenging the failure of Zoning Amendment 15.

The Peterborough Select Board plan to discuss both zoning challenges during its board meeting Tuesday night at the Town House. 

If the board denies a re-hearing, the next possible step would be for the Monadnock Rod and Gun Club to appeal to the Hillsborough County Superior Court. 

 

Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 244 or asaari@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter @AshleySaariMLT. 




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