EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

February 5, 2013

Kingston residents oppose proposed shooting range

ZBA will hear proposal again next week

By Doug Ireland

---- — KINGSTON — Opposition is mounting against a proposal to establish a public indoor shooting range on Route 125.

Neighbors say the range, proposed by Samantha Mooskian of Seabrook, would present a health hazard and reduce property values.

The 14-lane shooting range would be located inside a commercial building at 21 Route 125 also occupied by East Coast Metal Works.

But neighbors, including Hillside Road residents Martin Orio and Timothy Shea, are concerned and have asked town officials to deny the request.

“Reduced property values, lead and noise are the three big things,” Orio said. “This kind of facility has been proven across the country to lower property values.”

Orio said he and his wife, Andrea, also are concerned about the toxic lead dust created by the firing of firearms. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has linked lead to numerous human health problems, he said.

Martin Orio said they are worried about potential noise day and night, seven days a week. The range would be open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. if approved.

Shea said he has the same concerns as Orio, noting the site lies within an aquifer protection zone.

“Lead dust is a major concern for me,” said Shea, the father of a 2-year-old and a 6-year-old. “It’s horrific on children.”

Orio and Shea said they are not opposed to the Second Amendment right to bear arms and their opposition is not due to the fatal shootings of 26 people in Newtown, Conn., last month.

They just don’t think a firing range should be allowed in their neighborhood.

“This is not a march on guns, it’s a march on lowering property values and with no regard for local residents,” Orio said.

Shea said Mooskian has no regard for the neighbors’ rights.

“The applicant has no concern for anyone but herself,” he said.

Orio and Shea said they plan to speak out against the shooting range when it goes before the Zoning Board of Adjustment on Feb. 14.

“I will fight this,” Shea said. “I will not give up.”

Feb. 14 won’t be the first time the proposal has gone before town officials.

The zoning board unanimously approved Mooskian’s request for a special exception in September, according to Chairman Electra Alessio.

The town’s zoning ordinance neither permits nor prohibits a shooting range in that area, thus the need for a special exception.

But when the proposal went before the Planning Board in December, it was determined some abutters had not been notified about the project, she said. It’s the applicant’s responsibility to notify abutters.

Approximately half a dozen businesses in a nearby complex were not notified, even though the complex’s owner was contacted, Alessio said.

The special exception needed for the range to operate in the town’s commercial zone was nullified.

While a few residents have spoken in opposition to the project, no one has spoken in favor of the proposal, Alessio said.

The zoning board heard the request for a second time Jan. 10, but the hearing was continued until Feb. 14 so Mooskian could provide more information about the project.

Mooskian, a former Kingston resident, said she’s prepared to answer any questions about the project when she goes before the board.

She said she proposed locating the facility in Kingston because the closest public shooting range is in Manchester.

She disputes the neighbors’ claims about noise and the dangers of lead dust, which she said would not be a problem because it’s enclosed. The noise from the firing of weapons would be within legal limits and not heard late at night, she said

Orio and Shea said they should have been notified about the project, but Alessio and Mooskian said it was not required because they are not abutters.

Mooskian said she plans to run a well-supervised shooting range. She said she thinks the neighbors are blowing the issue out of proportion.

“It’s all fear, it’s fear of the unknown,” she said. “It’s time to educate people.”