, Derry, New Hampshire

September 20, 2012

Country club at odds with fish and game, police

Nearby shooting ranges generate complaints from local golfers

By James Niedzinski

---- — LONDONDERRY — Golfers say their games are being interrupted by the sounds of gunfire.

During a Town Council meeting last week, Londonderry Country Club owner Tom Kimball said the noise from the nearby shooting range has fired up golfers and residents since 1990, when he first brought the issue in front Town Council.

“I have had golfers complain to me time and time again about this,” Kimball said.

The Londonderry Country Club at 56 Kimball Road abuts the Fish and Game Club in the Musquash Conservation Area, as well as a police target shooting range.

Kimball has made the argument many times in the past, but there has been no action by the Town Council.

The police firing range was approved by the Town Council in 2008. The Fish and Game Club has been there since 1972. At that time, councilors believed the operating hours and distance from residential housing would not cause a problem.

Kimball has brought the issue before different Town Councils and different police chiefs over the years, but with no real results.

During the meeting last week, Kimball suggested some alternatives, including a taxpayer-funded range or transferring officers to an indoor shooting range in nearby Manchester.

“He has been complaining ubiquitously since the 1990s,” Londonderry Fish and Game Club president Richard Olsen said. “It’s become obnoxious.”

Olsen said the law is on his side and cited a state law passed in 2004 which protects firing ranges from noise pollution complaints.

New Hampshire RSA 159-B, Section 1, states “ person who owns, operates, or uses a shooting range in this state shall be subject to civil liability or criminal prosecution in any matter relating to noise or noise pollution...”

“He never complains about the noise from the airport, only gunfire,” Olsen said.

Some area residents also have complained about the sound of gunfire on West Road and Sara Beth Lane, and their complaints have been logged by police, Kimball said.

“I was on the soccer field Sunday and there was loud banging,” Town Councilor Joseph Green said. “It was like a cowboy shootout Sunday.”

Green and other councilors agreed they need to do some field work. Town officials, police officials, Fish and Game Club members and the public will be invited to a demonstration at the shooting range, to determine the effects that gunfire has on residents and golfers.

Police agreed to come to a conclusion over the issue, said police Chief William Hart

So far, no time or date has been set for these public tests to take place.

“We have had golfers come in and complain,” club manager Helga Kimball said. “It’s more about the residents than the club, we have had a lot of support from residents calling and supporting us.”