DOVER — White Birch Armory, now located in Rochester, is hoping for approval today to build and relocate to an indoor shooting facility in an industrial area that would be open to the public.
Owner and Laconia native Sean Manning, 38, is a Purple Heart recipient who served eight years in the Marines. He deployed multiple times to Iraq as a scout sniper and in reconnaissance.
Manning wants to build a 15,000-square-foot facility at the end of Quality Way in Dover where there are other industrial buildings. To do so, he needs approval from the city’s Zoning Board when they meet Thursday night.
On Wednesday, Manning said the Zoning Board would need to permit a commercial recreational use in the development presently zoned for industrial and business uses. If that happens, he can then present his plans to the Planning Board.
Manning hopes to begin construction as soon as the ground thaws.
Once the new facility opens, Manning will close his shop on Great Falls Avenue in Rochester. The indoor range will be open to the public and include a retail shop and training area, said David Guard, the operations manager.
Guard, 33, also was a Marine for a decade as a motor transport operations chief. He fought in Iraq and served in Africa and Central America.
Manning and Guard both worked in the firearms industry before Manning began White Birch Armory in 2014.
Manning and Guard said the business has grown in the last five years, but there is still nowhere local for people to practice marksmanship indoors.
“People are looking for gravel pits to shoot in, sometimes leaving bottles or appliances out there. This will give them a responsible place to shoot and all of the safety classes we offer,” Manning said.
Some living along nearby Quail Drive are concerned about weekend noise from the range. An equine medical and surgical center also has similar concerns, Manning said.
He assured the business will work closely with the Dover Police Department to keep noise within reason if the plan is approved. Manning said many large trucks already rumble up and down Venture Drive each day.