RICHMOND - An application for a special use permit that would allow the construction of a proposed shooting range on Kingstown Road was presented to the zoning board at a meeting on Monday night, Oct. 24. After three hours of testimonies from professional witnesses, little was decided, and the meeting was continued to Monday, Nov. 14.
The applicant, Tom Mirza, of 273 Lenox St., Norwood, Mass., is seeking the permit in order to build the Gentleman’s Gun Club on the property at 87 Kingstown Road, know as the old Foxwood Country Club.
The audience was unsettled for most of the meeting, which was due, in part, to the inability of many attendees to hear the testimonies of the witnesses and the proceedings of the council. Due to the sound difficulties, long testimonies and many questions and comments from public, three testimonies were unable to be heard during the 3-hour time frame that the council put forth at the beginning of the meeting.
At the meeting’s continuation, the remaining testimonies plus an additional one will be heard, and the parameters for a sound test at the site will be set.
Rep. Larry Valencia (Dist. 39, Charlestown, Exeter, Richmond), a zoning board member said that while there have been some large and passionate crowds at zoning board meetings in the past, this meeting was “pretty close” to the largest crowd he has seen.
He continued to say that once all testimonies are heard, and the sound test stipulations have been agreed upon, there will be public comment. It is unclear, however, whether there will be time for that at the next meeting or if it will be continued again.
“Everyone who wants the opportunity to speak will have that opportunity,” he said.
The issue was first proposed to the planning board on Oct. 11, and was for a shooting range and sport clay range. The planning board passed the issue along to the the zoning board with the recommendation that the sport clay range portion be moved.
“The most important thing,” Valencia said, “based on feedback that the applicant got from the planning board is that they decided to move the skeet shooting area.”
With the clay shooting range taken off the table, the three main issues that remain are noise, safety and property value. The applicant’s attorney, Brendan Smith, referred to these issues as “the big three,” and presented witnesses to testify regarding each of them.
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