MOULTONBOROUGH — The zoning board of adjustment has decided that a special exception is needed for a local man who built a private outdoor recreational shooting facility on his property for family and friends.
Charles Purse, who owns a home in the exclusive gated community of Bald Peak, was issued the needed building permits on Nov. 8, 2018, to construct two “shooting platforms” on a 40-acre parcel he bought at 1277 Governor Wentworth Highway in the rural/agricultural zone.
In August, after neighbors complained of a May marathon shooting session that Purse agreed may have lasted four hours, selectmen issued a cease-and-desist order at the recommendation of Code Enforcement Officer Stefan Zalewski.
Last month, the ZBA voted to uphold Zalewski’s decision. During the meeting, Zalewski told the board his understanding from the plans submitted was that Purse was installing hunting stands on his property.
Zalewski said no one told him what was being proposed was a five-stand sporting clay shooting course and a rifle target stand. One plan that was never acted upon that was filed separately had a notation reading “overhead trap machine for five-stand.” Zalewski said that an applicant could draw in a grand piano on a set of plans, but he wouldn’t ask them if they were going to hold concerts there.
Abutters who spoke during the prior hearing expressed their concerns that the noise coming from Purse’s property when shooting occurs is rapid, consistent and egregious.
Addressing safety concerns voiced by abutters, Purse’s attorney, James Cowles, said the guns used at the Purse property are two 12-gauge shotguns, a 20-gauge shotgun and a “deer rifle,” although he did not specify the caliber.
Based on available ballistic studies, he told the board the maximum distance for a 12-gauge using birdshot is 670 feet, and the 20-gauge is even shorter. The most extreme distance in ideal conditions that they could find published was 900 feet. He said no projectiles could leave the property based on physics.
Cowles has said Purse is willing to abide by self-imposed time and usage restrictions/conditions to be able to resume recreational shooting on his property.
He proposes to limit the total number of shooting days per year to 22; during June and August, shooting would occur on Tuesday and Friday between 9:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m., a maximum of two days per month. From September to May, shooting would occur a maximum of four days per month at the same times on Tuesday, Friday and Saturday.
According to the application for a special exception, Purse has no plans to operate a commercial shooting range, nor is he asking the town to permit him to start a shooting club.
“Purse solely seeks to enjoy the property after building the shooting platforms in reliance on the building permits that were issued by the town’s code and compliance officer on November 8, 2018,” the application reads.