A shooting range in Greene County is generally a good idea. It will offer sportsmen a place to practice and learn about the safe handling of firearms. To be clear, we are not opposed to Mr. Durrer’s right to open a shooting range, but we are opposed to the location of it.
Many opponents of this location are gun owners themselves, hunters, former military, or currently work with national agencies that support the military. This is not an anti-gun issue.
As with any business, the appropriateness of the location must be considered. Not just for the business owner but especially for the community around him. While the business owner usually does look after his best interests, the people of the greater community elect officials whose duty it is to do what’s best for said community. We’re thankful for their service and are confident that our Greene County officials will do what’s best for the many hard-working families in the communities surrounding this location and reject this proposal.
This location is appropriate and convenient for only one person – the owner and author of the proposal. It’s in his back yard, next to his firearms store (Big Iron Outdoors at 15337 Spotswood Trail, Est July 2011), and on land (farmland) his family already owns.
This proposed location is not in any way appropriate for the Greene County residents, taxpayers, and the greater community. As appealing as it is to approve a new small business venture that may bring some additional tax money into the county coffers, it is short-sighted and is dramatically offset by the economic destruction of many Greene County families’ property values, equity, spending power and, in the end, will significantly decrease real estate tax revenues.
Some reasons why this location is wrong:
- This is essentially a residential area with over 100 homes and 2 churches within a 1/2 mile radius of the proposed location. The beautiful and rustic Durrer farm is the other dominant feature of the area, and that landscape will change with the addition of this firing range and parking lot.
- It will significantly and detrimentally affect property values for dozens of residential homes, potentially 100 or more, surrounding the proposed location. Homes in which many Greene County families have much of their net worth tied up in. As catastrophic as the housing market collapse was several years ago, this will create a similar affect for many, many families in Greene County.
- Decreased property values will in turn decrease Greene County real estate tax revenue. An impact study is forthcoming.
- Noise pollution. This location is on open land and is not shielded by terrain on any side. It actually is on fairly high ground. Even at the proposed reduction of noise to 60Db, this will cause constant and persistent gunfire at levels equivalent to that of a barking dog. Not the quiet, rural atmosphere that all the nearby Greene County families expected when they built homes here.
- Lead poisoning. No matter what they might say about their state-of-the-art bullet traps, lead will become airborne and escape to the surrounding area. That surrounding area is agricultural, with cattle feeding on it and with a small stream downhill of the proposed range. That surrounding area includes neighborhoods with children. Children drinking well water.
- Traffic congestion and gridlock. The proposed location is within view of and just 400ft off of US Rt 33 in a 55MPH zone with no deceleration or turning lane for either eastbound or westbound traffic. A serious accident recently occurred in front of the firearms shop on 12 March 2015. If we are to believed that this facility will bring in many customers from surrounding areas, potentially dangerous traffic will increase exponentially on roads that are not suited to carry it. The nearby Rt 29 and Rt 33 intersection is already a problem in this regard. School bus routes utilize this road and at least 2 school bus stops are within a quarter mile of the proposed gun range.
- Terrain and Vegetation. Many outdoor shooting ranges we researched used terrain and vegetation to mitigate any noise and safety concerns for the few cases where any residences were nearby. This location has neither. It is on fairly high ground (see the aerial imagery page) and is only shielded by trees on one side. Even the forested side has homes as close as 600ft away, through the trees. With terrain and forestry as dense as it is throughout Greene County, it’s very difficult to believe that much better locations taking these two aspects into account cannot be found.
- Quality of life for the numerous families surrounding this proposed location will be adversely affected. No matter how safe a facility like this is advertised to be, families, particularly those with children living within line of sight or earshot of this facility, will naturally feel unsafe.
- Accidents. As safe as a facility like this is purported to be, firearm accidents can and do occur. With all of the residential homes and general traffic in the vicinity, who can be sure that a stray bullet, perhaps even from someone in the parking lot showing his firearm to a friend, won’t happen? The potential is so much greater with so many homes and commerce nearby.
- Blight on the rural and pastoral nature of what is a beautiful agricultural area. This location is within view of people traveling down US Rt 33 entering Greene County from Orange County. It’s on open and fairly flat terrain with tree cover only on one side. Consider also the large parking lot that will be adjacent to the range and even closer to Rt 33. All of this will replace 2 acres of pasture that cows grazed upon. This seems to contradict the Greene County Comprehensive Plan which, “lays out a future land use vision that includes a discrete growth area and the
retention of significant rural areas” and “Prevailing community wishes are for the county to retain its rural character and to preserve and promote the county’s agricultural heritage“.
- Yes, they’ll have signatures, but with a huge caveat. There’s no doubt that sportsmen from the surrounding region will sign a petition or show up at the Planning Commission meeting to support this proposed shooting range. They simply want someplace closer and more convenient to go. BUT it’s very important to note that most, if not all of them, do not live near the proposed range nor do they have a vested interest in the neighborhoods around the proposed range. This characterization is often called “Not In My Back Yard” or NIMBY (as in “as long as it’s not in my back yard”) and it most likely applies to all of those in favor of this proposal.
- Does Greene County want to be the first, but not in a good way? In researching other outdoor shooting ranges in Virginia. We could not find any other location that was on such a small patch of land (2 acres), so close to a much-traveled US route, with so many residential homes within 1/2 mile, and so close to a city center. Greene County would be setting an undesirable precedent if it approved this location.
While Greene County is small compared to the adjacent counties, it is still fairly underdeveloped, and there are many other more suitable locations where this facility can be placed.
We hope the Greene County Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors recognizes these facts and makes the right decision to recommend that the business owner find another location.