Hundreds pack Powhatan meeting to oppose proposed firing range

By Tara Morgan - bio | email

POWHATAN, VA (WWBT) -  Virginia State Police got an earful as Powhatan residents spoke out against a proposed firing range in that community.

About 300 people attended a meeting to hear more about the plan to build an 18 acre range off Old River Trail. Some of the people are part of a grassroots effort to put a stop to the proposal.

They're not opposed to the idea of a firing range, they just don't want one so close to home. Powhatan and Goochland residents peppered state police with concerns.

"This range is firing straight at our house," said Tom Ford who lives in Goochland.

"Would you want a firing range this close to your church?," asked Danielle Lipscomb of Shiloh Baptist Church.

"I feel threatened. My family business is not going to sustain here," said William Arrington who raises beef cattle.

The proposal calls for 81 firing ranges to be used by state police, the FBI Richmond field office, and Game and Inland Fisheries.

State Police Lt. Col. Bob Kemmler says Monday through Friday, day training would run between 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and night shooting could go as late as 9:00 p.m. As many as 38 vehicles would be traveling to and from the facility at any one time.

"We estimate on a yearly basis we'll use the range 21 weeks out of the year," said Lt. Col. Kemmler.

Residents say the range will turn their tranquil community into a war zone. They suggest using a military base instead.

"There's a high probability the range will create noise levels above and beyond acceptable sound levels for Powhatan which will potentially create a war like environment," said William Sandoval.

County leaders say 700 homes are within a mile of the proposed range.

"We are at danger in our subdivision. We are in danger of errant rounds being hit by you in our subdivision," said Ford.

Arrington worries about his cattle.

"Cattle are extremely sensitive to loud noises, much less repetitive gunshots 12 hours a day six days a week," said Arrington.

"I support law enforcement and I understand for a need for a range like this, but I don't support stupidity," said Moe Marchetti.

The range would have to be approved by the Department of Environmental Equality.

Delegate Lee Ware told the crowd he is not in support of the proposal and plans to contact Governor McDonnell Wednesday. Senator John Watkins wants the project delayed.

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