Contoocook, regional planners will have input on Warner shooting range proposal

 

By Ray Carbone

WARNER – The town’s planning board has reversed an earlier decision and decided that a tentative plan to build a $1.4-million shooting range and gun store on Warner Road could impact other nearby communities. At a meeting in town hall on April 17, the group voted unanimously to invite representatives of Hopkinton and the Central NH Regional Planning Commission to participate in a review of the building application presented by Eric Miller of Sutton. Chairman Ben Frost noted that neither of the organizations will have a vote on the final decision.

Frost also revealed that Norman Carlson, the founder and president of MadgeTech, has filed an appeal with the Merrimack Superior Court, asking that a recent ruling by the town’s zoning board of adjustment be overturned. Carlson claims the ZBA acted improperly when it approved a special exemption for the firearms operation because two state agencies that own property next to the proposed site were not legally notified of the original March hearing. At its last meeting in April, the zoning board reviewed Carlson’s request to reconsider its decision but decided to let the exemption stand.

The court appeal also asked the town to forbid the planning board from moving forward with Miller’s application, but the judge rejected that request. A ruling on the legality of the ZBA’s actions will likely come in May.

(Developer) Eric Miller said the range itself would predominately be an educational facility that will offer classes for novices, educational classes and classes about the laws related to firearms.

 

Carlson’s high-tech company is located next to the proposed 2.9-acre site of the firearms operation and he’s said that he will move it out of Warner if the town approves the shooting range. He’s concerned about possible noise and safety issues on the land, especially since MadgeTech is planning to expand on the site.

At last week’s planning board hearing, several people in the crowd of more than 60 also voiced similar concerns, including several who live in the village of Contoocook in Hopkinton. Renee Adams pointed out that Hopkinton Middle High School is located nearby the Warner Road site and that both school athletes and family groups frequently exercise and recreate in the area.

Diane Ricciardelli of Warner said that research indicates that home values in town’s where shooting ranges are located typically drop about 4-percent while resident Faith Minton noted that the Warner’s Master Plan favors supporting existing businesses like Carlson’s, which has been in town for 20 years.

But others supported Miller’s plan, indicating his ambitious plans for noise abatement and lead recovery. Selectman Kimberly Edelmann said an indoor range would be good for the town. “So many of us who shoot guns do it outdoors where we piss off the neighbors, the dogs, scare the cows and leave debris in the woods and on the trails.”

Earlier in the meeting, Miller described his planned facility as an indoor gun range and retail store that would “capture 100-percent of sound in the building.” “All spent ammo will be capture,” he added, noting that even water and air will be treated before being released. “Nothing, and I mean nothing, that contains lead is leaving that building.”

Miller said the range itself would predominately be an educational facility that will offer classes for novices, educational classes and classes about the laws related to firearms.

Later, Miller responded to a rumor that he plans to put a lounge on the property in the future where alcohol could be sold. He said he is considering adding a restaurant or an indoor skeet shooting operation next year but those are not part of the current building proposal.

The planning board will continue considering the shooting range plan at its next meet on May 1.

 This story first appeared in the InterTown Record of Sutton, N.H., on April 25, 2017.

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Warner company may move if shooting range approved; MadgeTech wanted land where range now planned

 

Eric Miller submitted the above illustration showing what his proposed gun shop/shooting gallery could look like to Warner planning officials recently.

 

By Ray Carbone

WARNER – A Sutton man’s plan to build a $1.4-million indoor shooting range and retail gun store on Warner Road has won initial approval from town planning officials but it’s opposed by Norman Carlson, the founder and president of MadgeTech Inc., who says he will move his high-tech firm out of town if the project moves forward.

Norman Carlson says MadgeTech, which abuts the proposed project’s land, does $10-million in annual sales but he will move his 60-employee firm from its hometown if Eric Miller’s proposal to construct two buildings (connected by a breezeway) totaling 11,800 square-feet on 2.9 acres for a firearms operation moves forward.

Last year, Carlson tried to buy the same land in a sealed bid process from the NH division of Forests and Land, but his bid fell just $100 short. The winning bid of $57,100 was entered by Richard M. George of Webster and Carlson believes that George was somehow tipped off about his company’s $57,000 bid. George denies the claim.

Miller said he retired at 50 but he soon got bored and began thinking about options. “I began thinking, what is it that’s worth my time, that would be able to draw in enough people for it to be viable,” he recalled. “And I ended up concluding that this (shooting range and store) was a business that I could draw people in from a 30-mile radius and pull in enough people for it to be viable.”

(MadgeTech’s president Norman) Carlson believes that (Richard M.) George was somehow tipped off about his company’s $57,000 bid (on the land). George denies the claim.

The businessman said he deliberately chose the unusually shaped lot nearby Interstate 89’s exit 7.

“I needed (the site) to be commercial zoned and with the least amount of abutters,” he explained. “A gun range is definitely a thing that’s going to go thorough review from (town) zoning, planning and all that… It would have been harder if it were next to a residential area. That would have caused a lot more confusion and panic by the surrounding neighbors.”

Miller said the shooting range would be a 9,400 square-feet structure with 16 lanes; the retail store of 2,400 square feet would connect via a breezeway. The range will be built to double the noise standards required by the Department of Energy. In addition, the Department of Environmental Services’ air quality standards call for an aggressive HVAC system that eliminates any lead produced by firearms from the air before being released to the outdoors.

Miller described his planned range as an “educational facility” that will cater to a growing group of novices interested in shooting.

But that’s one of than issues that most concerns Carlson.

“You’ll have people getting in and out of their vehicles with guns. And he said he’s going to appeal to novices so you’ll have people who don’t know what they’re doing. We have (employee) picnics outside there, not five feet from that property. There’s a residence right there, a couple with two small children. Do we really want that next to a residential home?”

Carlson said he’s for the Second Amendment but he does not want the shooting so close to his growing business. He said employees have already raised concerns and he’s prepared to do anything he can to oppose the project, from exploring legal options to moving out of town.

“Our company is 20 years old,” he explained. “Everything we sell, we make and design right here in Warner. We do about $10-million in annual sales. We have two devices on the International Space Station. Almost every biotech company in the world uses our products. We have an annual growth in Asia of 32 percent, in Europe of 22 percent. Everyone here has health insurance, a 401K, profit sharing and all kinds of benefits. And we’re working on a $3 million addition here for office space and marketing.

“I hope they know what they’re giving up here,” the MadgeTech president said, referring to town leaders. “It’s too bad, because there are other towns I can move to, places that will give me tax breaks. Concord will give me tax credits to move there. I don’t want to do that, but if they want to put a gun range in there, they’re telling me they don’t value this company… I won’t stay around if Warner decides to approve a gun range there.”

In early March, Miller won a special exception from the town’s zoning board of adjustment to operate the shooting range as an approved “amusement and recreation (indoor)” facility. On March 24, the town’s planning board was scheduled to review his building application but it delayed accepting the application because Carlson filed a request for a rehearing. The MadgeTech president said that the town had failed to notify two abutters: the NH Department of Transportation and the division of Forest and Lands. The board voted to notify the two agencies and rescheduled a meeting for Monday, April 17.

Last week, the zoning board met to consider the same proposal from Carlson but the members voted 5-0 to deny the request for a rehearing. Member Corey Giroux, an attorney, said that his research indicated that the town is not required to notify state agencies about planning-related hearings.

This story first appeared in the InterTown Record of Sutton, N.H., in the April 18, 2017.

MORE: The Concord Monitor featured an article on this week’s planning board meeting in Tuesday’s edition. Read it here.

 

 

Warner is rockin’ the state (says Hippo)

Here’s a couple of the “best of 2017” awards that went to locals from The Hippo…
* Best Concord-area “Cup of Coffee” – Schoodacs Coffee & Tea, 1 E. Main St , Warner, 456-3400, schoodacs.com
* Best Concord-area Bookstore – Main Street BookEnds of Warner, 16 E. Main St., Warner, 456-2700, mainstreetbookends.com
* Best Concord-area Community Event – “Warner Fall Foliage Festival, held in downtown Warner every fall, is a free, family-friendly event that highlights rural life and colorful foliage. The Festival features live entertainment, parades, a 5K, amusement rides and food. This year’s event goes from Friday, Oct. 6, through Sunday, Oct. 8, wfff.org.”
The whole list is here.
 
Rewarding, but (really) no surprises here… Great folks doing great work for our community.

Sunapee school board picks ex-member; Warner selectman is new to the job

SUNAPEE – The four sitting members of the Sunapee school board voted unanimously to stick with one of their own Wednesday by appointing April Royce to fill a vacant seat on the board.

Royce will serve a one-year term that opened up following the recent resignation of member Heather Furlong. Furlong’s husband was arrested last month for allegedly committing election fraud during his wife’s race for a board seat last year.

Royce had been the overwhelmingly choice of voters to serve a one-year term in 2016, but she finished fifth among five candidates who ran for a full three-year term last month. The board chose her after she and two other interested residents were publicly interviewed at a public meeting before the group’s its regular meeting at Sunapee Middle High School last week.

During her interview, Royce told the sitting board members that she believed her professional and personal experience with financial issues would help them to “reduce costs while managing results and employee satisfaction.” She said she has a good understanding of the board’s financial responsibilities and has the ability to break down fiscal information for other people “in non-financial terms.”

Royce said she places a high value on public school education and that she believes the district’s primary mission is “helping children learn to be contributing members of society.”

Sunapee selectman John Augustine, who finished third in the five-person race for two vacant seats in March, said that the board could benefit from his ‘numbers orientation and analytic mindset.’

 

Community activist Gidget Ducharme told the board that she wanted the district to develop a “clearer picture of (each) student’s strengths and weaknesses.” She promoted a community approach that would involve parents and teachers, as well as guidance councilors and educational advisors.

“I think we do a good job with kids who have challenges, and with the advanced kids,” she said, but students “in the middle of the road” could use more support.

Ducharme also promoted the idea of introducing languages in early education because research indicates that there are multiple educational and social benefits, including greater mental flexibility and higher math scores on standardized tests.

Selectman John Augustine, who finished third in the five-person race for two vacant board seats in March’s elections, said that the board could benefit from his “numbers orientation and analytic mindset.” “I have the mindset of a business owner and entrepreneur,” he explained.

Augustine also said that he’s hired many local students for his business over the years and is concerned that with their general lack of enthusiasm about their futures. “I don’t sense that be-all-you-can be passion and inspiration that I felt a generation ago,” he noted, especially given the advantages Sunapee students have with relative small class sizes and highly compensated teachers.

Board member Jesse Tyler asked Augustine about how he would work in an cooperative fashion since local newspapers have published letters the selectman wrote that were critical of current board members. Tyler said he had to talk to his young child after he was “mischaracterized as being foolish” in one of Augustine’s column.

Augustine said that he had been critical of something Tyler said at a public meeting because he did not think it was helpful to the district. “We’re not here to make ourselves look good,” he added, suggesting that the board needs to face the “reality of the situation” in the district.

Shortly after the board convened its regular meeting, the group unanimously approved Royce for the vacant position. In addition, Royce was voted to become the board’s new vice-chairman.

A March 2018 election will let voters chose who fills out the remainder of Furlong’s term.

Read about the Warner selectmen here.

This story first appeared in the InterTown Record, Sutton, NH, on April 11, 2017.

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