Greenburgh Supervisor Paul Feiner introduced legislation this week to regulate outdoor gun ranges in town after a neighbor of a range on Ardsley Road was hit by what police believe was a bullet fragment.
The legislation was drafted by Bob Bernstein, a neighborhood activist in Edgemont and Feiner’s opponent in the supervisor’s race last year. It would bar outdoor ranges within a quarter mile of homes or schools and would require permits for new ranges and registration of existing ranges. It also mandates insurance coverage and sets some safety standards. The Westchester County Police Revolver and Rifle League, where the bullet fragment is believed to have come from, falls within the quarter mile limit, Feiner said.
“I thought his suggestions were constructive and I want to do whatever I can do to address this problem,” Feiner said.
The fragment, which struck a woman in the leg in June at Ardsley Chase, a new development built by Toll Brothers next door to the range, is still awaiting testing at the county lab but Greenburgh Police Chief Chris McNerney said he is confident it came from the range.
“Based on our experience and comparison to other samples we found inside the range, we believe it is a projectile that left the range,” he said.
Supporters of the range have criticized town officials for allowing the housing development to be built so close to the Rifle League, which has been there for decades. Scott Sommavilla, the president of the Westchester County Firearm Owners Association, said Greenburgh officials missed an opportunity to have Toll Brothers pay for a wall or other screening for the homes.
But Sommavilla said he thinks issues with the range can be worked out. He plans to tour it soon.
“There’s some things that can be added to that range,” he said.
Feiner said when Ardsley Chase was built he didn’t know of the possible danger.
“Until this happened we never realized there were any safety concerns,” he said.
Feiner has also asked the state Department of Environmental Conservation to check the site for lead contamination.
“I feel the environmental issues could be as concerning as the safety,” he said.
Though most of the concern centers around outdoor ranges, Feiner said he will also take a look at the regulation of indoor ranges. Blueline Tactical Supply plans to open a new indoor range on the Saw Mill River Road in Elmsford this year. A Blueline employee had no comment.
Here is the draft legislation, which Feiner said he will refer to the Planning Board for recommendations. Chief McNerney has recommended amendments including requiring the use of frangible ammunition, which doesn’t contain lead and turns to dust on impact, banning high-powered rifles and requiring a safety certification:
Section 1. Purpose
This Ordinance is intended to regulate the establishment and operation of outdoor shooting range facilities. Such recreational and training complexes, due to their potential noise impacts and safety concerns, merit careful review to minimize adverse effects on adjoining properties. This Ordinance does not otherwise apply to the general discharge of firearms in accordance with all other applicable laws or regulations.
Section 2. Intent
It is the intent of this Ordinance to accomplish the following:
A. Permitting, registration and compliance. New shooting ranges shall only be established in accordance with a valid permit issued by the Town of Greenburgh. In addition, existing ranges shall be registered and shall comply with the provisions of this Ordinance within six months. However, no proposed or existing range shall be permitted to operate within one-fourth (1/4) mile (1,320 feet) of any residence, school, place of worship, playground , child day care center, or public park.
B. Shot containment. Each shooting range facility shall be designed to contain the bullets and/or shot on the range facility.
C. Noise mitigation. Each shooting range facility shall be designed to minimize off-site noise impacts generated by the activities conducted on the range facility.
Section 3. Authority
This Ordinance is adopted under the authority of New York Town Law Section 130.
Section 4. Definitions
As used in this Ordinance, the following terms shall have the respective meanings ascribed to them:
dBA: The sound pressure level, in decibels, as measured using the impulse mode and “A” weighting network on a precision sound level meter.
Firearm: A weapon, including pistols, rifles, and shotguns, capable of firing a projectile using an explosive charge as a propellant.
Firing line: A line parallel to a target from which firearms are discharged.
Person; Any individual, corporation, association, club, firm, or partnership.
Safety fan: An area on a shooting range facility designed to contain all projectiles fired from a shooting range.
Shooting range: An area designed and improved to encompass shooting stations or firing lines, target areas, berms and baffles, and other related components.
Shooting range facility: A public or private facility, including individual shooting ranges, safety fans or shotfall zones, structures, parking areas, and other associated improvements, designed for the purpose of providing a place for the discharge of various types of firearms.
Shooting station: A fixed point from which firearms are discharged.
Shotfall zone: An area within which the shot or pellets contained in a shotgun shell typically fall.
Structure: A walled and roofed building that is typically above ground; a manufactured or mobile home; a storage tank for gases or liquids; or any other permanent, manmade facilities.
Section 5. Applicability
This Ordinance is applicable to all existing and future shooting ranges in the unincorporated areas of the Town of Greenburgh.
Section 6. Performance Standards
The following performance standards shall apply to all shooting range facilities:
A. Shot containment. Shooting range facilities shall be designed to contain all of the bullets or shot or any other debris on the range facility.
B. Noise mitigation. Noise levels measured at the property line where the facility is maintained or, in the case of leased land, at the property line of any leased parcel shall not exceed sixty-five (65(dBA) when located adjacent to residential or commercial property or seventy-five (75) dBA when adjacent to industrial property.
C. Written variance. These performance measures may be varied with written permission of adjoining property owners affected thereby.
Section 7. Development Requirements
A. Setbacks. Notwithstanding the performance standards of Section 6, all shooting stations on a range facility shall be located a minimum of two hundred (200) feet from any property line.
B. Warning signs. Warning signs meeting National Rifle Association (NRA) guidelines for shooting ranges shall be posted at one hundred foot intervals along the entire perimeter of the shooting range facility.
C. Distance from occupied dwelling. All shooting stations shall be located at least one-fourth (1/4) mile (1,320 feet) from any existing, occupied dwelling, school, place of worship, playground, public park or child day care facility.
D. Written variance. The distance requirements of this Section may be varied with written permission of all adjoining property owners affected thereby.
Section 8. Operational Requirements
A. Hours of Operation. Shooting ranges shall be allowed to operate between sunrise and sunset.
B. Liability Insurance. The permittee shall be required to carry a minimum of $5,000,000 of liability insurance. Such insurance shall name the Town of Greenburgh as an additional insured party and shall save and hold the Town of Greenburgh, its elected and appointed officials, and employees acting within the scope of their duties harmless from and against all claims, demands and causes of action or any kind or character, including the cost of defense thereof, arising in favor of a person or group’s members or employees or third parties on account of any property damage or personal injury arising out of the acts or omissions of the permittte, his/her group, club, or its agent or representatives. The Town shall also be notified of any policy changes or lapses in coverage.
Section 9. Procedure for Securing Approval for New Ranges
A. Permit application. An application for a permit to establish and operate a shooting range facility shall be submitted by the legal property owner(s) or owner’s agent to the Department of Community Development and Planning. Such permit shall be secured prior to issuance of any other building or other permits required by the Town.
B. Fees. The application shall be accompanied by an application fee of two hundred fifty dollars ($250.00).
C. Required Information. The applicant shall provide sufficient information as required by these provisions in order to properly evaluate the permit application. In addition, copies of any written agreements from the adjoining property owners and a letter from the insurance company to provide liability insurance shall accompany the permit application.
D. Site plan. A site plan for the entire range facility which shows the following applicable information drawn to an appropriate scale, shall accompany the permit application:
1. Property lines for any parcel upon which the range facility is to be located, north arrow, plan scale, date, and ownership information for the site;
2. Complete layout of each range, including, shooting stations or firing lines, target areas, shotfall zones or safety fans, backstops, berms and baffles.
3. Projected noise contours;
4. Existing and proposed structures; occupied dwellings, schools, playgrounds, places of worship, public parks and child day care facilities within one-fourth mile; roads streets, or other access areas; buffer areas and parking areas for the range facility; and
5. Any other appropriate information related to the specific type of range(s) being proposed.
E. Action. Within thirty (30) working days or at the next available meeting, whichever is sooner, the Town Board shall take one (1) of the following actions:
1. Reject the application as incomplete; or
2. Approve the issuance of the permit; or
3. Deny the permit request.
In any case, the written findings to support the action taken shall be provided to the applicant.
F. Permit display. Permits hall be kept and displayed in a readily visible location on the shooting range facility and at all times be available for public information.
G. A permit issued pursuant to this Ordinance may not be transferred to another operator without the written approval and consent of the Town’s Department of Commuunity Development and Planning.
H. Changes or expansions. If any shooting range facility is intended to be substantially changed or expanded to include types of ranges, operations, or activities not covered by an approved permit or otherwise cause nonconformance with this Ordinance, a new permit for the entire facility shall be secured in accordance with all of the provisions of this Ordinance.
Section 10. Registration and Compliance of Existing Ranges.
A. Registration. All existing ranges shall provide a site plan, prepared in accordance with Section 9-D within forty-five days (45) days after the effective date of this Ordinance. No fees will be charged and no permits will be required.
B. Compliance. Within six (6) months after the effective date of this Ordinance, any existing range facility determined not to be in compliance shall be ordered closed, and made to obtain a permit and comply with all of the requirements of this Ordinance.
C. Abandonment and discontinuance. When an existing shooting range discontinues operations for six (6) months or longer, it shall not reopen without first obtaining a permit in accordance with the requirements of this Ordinance.
Section 11. Enforcement, Remedies and Penalties
A. Enforcement and remedies. The Town of Greenburgh Police Department shall be responsible for the enforcement of this Ordinance. Any violation or attempted violation of this Ordinance or of any condition or requirement adopted pursuant to these provisions may be restrained, corrected, or abated, as the case may be, by injunction or other appropriate proceedings as allowed by state law. Any permit issued under this Ordinance may be suspended or revoke for noncompliance.
B. Civil penalties. Any person who violates any of the provisions of this Ordinance shall be subject to a civil penalty of one thousand dollars ($1,000) per violation. No penalty shall be assessed until the person alleged to be in violation has been notified of the violation. Each day of a continuing violation shall constitute a separate violation.
C. Criminal penalties. Any person who knowingly or willfully violates this Ordinance or who knowingly or willfully initiates or continues unapproved actions hall be guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment not to exceed thirty (30) days, or by a fine not to exceed one thousand dollars $1,000).