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Special exception denied for proposed gun range in Warner

Union Leader Correspondent

January 12. 2018 12:20AM

WARNER — A special exception for a proposed gun range was denied on a 3-2 vote by the zoning board Wednesday after nearly a year of controversy.

The first motion made was to approval the special exception, which did not pass in a 2 to 3 vote. After the next motion was made to deny the special exception, the final vote came out 3 to 2.

Chairman Janice Loz said it was a tough case, one that was very controversial in both Warner and Hopkinton.

The proposed gun range was to be built on nearly three acres of land on the north end of Warner Road off Exit 7 of Interstate 89 and close to the intersection of Route 103. It’s about half a mile from the Hopkinton town line.

Ben Miller, the owner of the range, said he was disappointed in the results and thanked those who had come out over the last few months in support of the project.

The vote doesn’t mean an end to the project, according to Miller.

“In the coming days, we will be considering the possibility and may choose to send out a survey to those who would be interested in a private club,” he said. “This would be a completely different business plan, which would need to be analyzed at length before a decision could be made.”

Over the last few months, many opinions have been given on the project. The project was deemed to have regional impact, so residents from neighboring communities like Hopkinton were also able to weigh in.

Those against the range cited concerns about health and safety, primarily due to the proximity to the Hopkinton Middle/High School. Hopkinton resident Jack Ruderman said that he knows most people who would use the range would be responsible, but that doesn’t mean that something couldn’t happen.

“All it takes is one unstable, determined individual and then you have a nightmare scenario on your hands,” he said.

However, Hopkinton resident Andy Stone said that the indoor facility would provide a safer location for residents to go, since the town currently allows residents to shoot in the backyard right now.

“That is more of a concern to me than a controlled, professional environment,” he said.

Miller has said that he wanted the range to serve primarily as an educational facility, providing classes for all levels of expertise.

That’s also why Miller said he wanted to make it a public range rather than a private one, which would be allowed in that zone.

“I chose to make it a public one so it could be focused on the education aspect of the range,” he said.

The denial of the special exception Wednesday was part of a court-ordered rehearing. In July, Merrimack County Superior Court found some abutters were not properly notified and given a chance to speak on the request before the zoning board.

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