NEWPORT — A Newport Planning Board meeting July 10 is expected draw a crowd opposing the development of a gun range off John Stark Highway.
The applicants for the project — Ruger Company Inc. and the Mountain View Gun Club — plan to meet with the planning board July 10 for a preliminary discussion.
On March 29, the Mountain View Gun Club received a special exception from town zoning laws to establish the outdoor recreational shooting facility on a 67-acre lot off John Stark Highway/routes 103 and 11.
The outdoor shooting facility would be for recreation, competition, instruction in safe gun handling, and product development by the Ruger Company. It is expected to bring shooters into Newport for general use of the facility as well as for scheduled events such as competitions.
However, the approval was hotly contested by some residents and neighbors who say the gun range raises noise, traffic safety and environmental concerns and would lower area property values.
In May, aggrieved residents calling themselves the Newport Safety Coalition requested a rehearing, which was denied by the zoning board when it refused to recognize the request.
The safety coalition has decided not to appeal the denial in superior court as yet and plans to participate in the planning board process, said attorney Michael B. Fisher, who along with the Law Firm of Rebecca A. Wagner in West Lebanon, is representing the residents.
“There’s certainly litigation options open to us in the future,” Fisher said on Monday.
The Mountain View Gun Club has been without a shooting range for many years. Sturm, Ruger hopes to acquire the property to establish the shooting range and then transfer ownership to the gun club.
The proposed site is zoned both industrial and rural. The special exception is required to allow the use in the industrial zone in which the firing of guns would take place. Discharged bullets would end up in the rural district.
Sturm, Ruger Co. is one of the country’s leading manufacturers of firearms for the commercial sporting market and is Newport’s largest employer.