DerryNews.com, Derry, New Hampshire

October 11, 2012

Can you hear the sound of gunfire?

A literal public hearing held at country club

By James Niedzinski jniedzinski@derrynews.com
Derry News

---- — LONDONDERRY — Town councilors, police officials and Londonderry Fish and Game Club members, as well as residents, gathered on the greens to hear the sound of gunshots.

Residents arrived at the Londonderry Country Club to determine if the sounds of nearby gunshots from the police firing range and the Londonderry Fish and Game Club firing range could be heard.

The owner of the Londonderry Country Club, Thomas Kimball, approached the Town Council last month about the issue, and said the sound of gunfire is affecting his business.

However, Richard Olson, president of the Londonderry Fish and Game Club, said gunfire noise could not be heard from the country club.

The fish and game club shooting range is located next to the Musquash Conservation Area

During the public meeting, police fired pistols, shotguns and assault riffles to see if they could be heard on the golf course, and if do how loud they were, according to Capt. Gerard Dussault.

Although residents were not just using their ears, Richard Tracy, vice president of the Fish and Game Club, was using a decibel reader.

“Nothing was over 50 decibels,” he said. “Some of the birds and planes were louder.”

Other club members agreed, saying gunfire from the police range was barely audible.

Although it was not scheduled specifically for the Town Council meeting, some club members were firing at their range as well, Olson said.

However, not everybody was satisfied with the police testing.

“This is not what we usually deal with,” said Londonderry Country Club owner Tom Kimball. “It is usually much louder.”

Pamela O’Brien, of 70 Alexander Road, said she has heard much louder gunfire throughout the night.

Other law enforcement agencies, such as the state police, have also used the shooting range, Chief William Hart said.

Hart added he will limit outside use of the police firing range in the future.

While town councilors and residents were only present to listen and ask questions during the meeting, Town Attorney Michael Ramsdell was present to address legal concerns.

“The state, for years, has defended shooting ranges from noise pollution complaints,” he said.

Ramsdell cited RSA 159-B, a law passed in 2004 protecting shooting ranges from any legal action relating to noise pollution.

Toward the end of the meeting, much louder gunshots were heard from the conservation area, in addition to the sound of planes from the nearby Manchester-Boston Regional Airport.

Hunting within the conservation area is legal, and coyote season is open year round. Hunting is in no way in jeopardy, said Town Council Chairman John Farrell.

Ruby Burton, of 11 Sanbrook Lane, said the sound of gunfire could be coming from a private residence, not necessarily from any of the shooting ranges.

Town Council members plan to meet on Oct. 15 to discuss their findings and address any more concerns by residents.