The Transylvania Times -

Board Rejects Shooting Range - Brevard NC


September 10, 2018

The City of Brevard Board of Adjustment unanimously denied the police department’s application last week for a new outdoor firing range located upstream of the city’s water plant on Cathey’s Creek Road.

The board, citing a lack of information, rejected approving a special use permit to allow an outdoor firing range in a general industrial zoning district. Brevard Police Chief Phil Harris had wanted to build the firing range for training purposes.

Prior to the vote, Harris told the board that the city’s current training facility, Bear Arms Indoor Shooting Range, does not meet his requirements.

The Transylvania County Sheriff’s Office currently shares the space with the city police. The police department formerly used the firing range located at the city’s wastewater treatment plan off Wilson Road until a few years ago when the utility expanded its operations. Years before that, a firing range was located close to the new proposed range, but the back-to-back impacts of two hurricanes in 2004 damaged the site, and the police department moved it to Wilson Road.

Work had already begun at the site, and Brevard City Council approved $50,000 for grading work and other site improvements, but there has been opposition from local residents and adjacent property owners, including Sherwin Shook and his wife, Cindy.

“If this goes through, I will sue the city of Brevard,” Shook told the board.

Shook lives on Clement Road, but the back portion of his property lies within 200 feet of the proposed firing range. He told the board he is often on his property and that he has a number of animals and family members who all enjoy spending time in the woods on the property. Shook said that he can shoot an arrow from his driveway and it will land in the middle of the proposed firing range.

“Now tell me if an arrow can make it all the way over there, what’s to stop a stray bullet?” he asked.

The board also voted to allow hearing the opinion of local resident Bill Thomas, who represents the local chapter of the Sierra Club. Thomas said that soils in Western North Carolina were low on the pH scale, meaning they are more acidic, and that the soil would eventually dissolve lead from bullets, no matter what kind of entrapment was installed.

As previously reported, Harris said he has been working with the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality and the Environmental Protection Agency on the project. Not only has Harris been working with these groups to address environmental concerns, but he said he was following National Rifle Association’s standards to build the shooting range. Harris said the range at Bear Arms is not sufficient to give his officers the right training. Harris showed the board a video of Kyle Dinkheller, a Laurens County, Ga., deputy who was killed in January of 1998. The video on Dinkheller’s dashcam showed him pulling over Vietnam veteran Andrew Howard Brannan for speeding. A verbal altercation ensued, resulting in the death of the deputy. Brannan had military training. Dinkheller did not.

“The indoor range gives us the bare minimum,” Harris said. “I want a range I can put barricades on, put a vehicle on, and if we look at the NRA standards that we are going to adhere to, they talk about police ranges that allow for that. So, I need an outdoor range.”

Harris has said before that he only intends to use the range about 30 times a year. Harris said that though they have to shoot at night for training, the practice would not go beyond 10 p.m.

“We went out and did a sound meter test and took an AR-15, a .40-caliber Glock and a .27-caliber hunting rifle that S.W.A.T. team snipers use and found that it knocked up the ambient decibel levels (the normal sounds of the forest minus the gunfire) from around 39 up 25 decibel bumps to 64 (with gunfire),” Harris said.

Harris said he intended to be a “good neighbor” and wants to work with anyone who lives nearby by notifying when there will be firing, as well as not using the range if it is not a good time for the neighbors, such as if a party is being held.

Shook also mentioned that he had talked to a few Transylvania County real estate agents, and they agreed that his property value would go down if the range were to be built.


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