Tuesday, December 05, 2000

Firing range irks neighbors

By Earnest Winston
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        FAIRFIELD TWP. — The noise began in the morning and continued well after 9 p.m. As it got darker, it got noisier.

        Fairfield Township residents who live near the Hamilton Police Department's firing range say this is what they experienced recently. The residents said the firing range, off Headgates Road, is making their lives miserable. The range, they say, is being used more and during the day.

        “I really would like to see the firing range go away, but I don't know if that would happen,” said Sally Gardner, who has two children, 5 and 2. “It's just annoying, especially at night when you do have young children and (are) trying to get them to sleep.”

        The Hollytree Court woman is among about 20 residents who recently signed a petition and sent it to Hamilton City Council and Fairfield Township trustees. They want the hours at the range to be restricted. Some even want it shut down.

        Hamilton Police Chief Neil Ferdelman said he recently met with Fairfield Township Police Chief Richard St. John and his training staff to discuss the matter.

        “We voluntarily are placing the limit on ourselves that we're going to cease any outdoor shooting at 8:45 p.m.,” Chief Ferdelman said. “The indoor shooting that we do at the range, you can hardily even hear that from right outside the door. ... We're going to try and police ourselves and keep that shooting to a minimum.”

        The D. Russel Lee Voca tional School and township police also use the firing range. Chief Ferdelman said Chief St. John is also “working to try and move some of the academy classes where they shoot at night to daytime shooting.”

        Residents say the problems have gotten worse over the past year. In their letter, the residents say they have been very patient, “thinking all along that it could not and would not continue at this rate.”

        Brett Couch called the changes Chief Ferdelman is making unacceptable. He said the firing range has deprived his family of sleep and interrupted barbecues.

        “It doesn't make sense that Hamilton's got a firing range in the middle of a residential area now,” Mr. Couch said. “Maybe in the 1950s, when it was country, that wasn't that big of an issue. But right now we have families. ... So we're going to push the issue. ... I think it's at the point (where) it doesn't belong there.”

        Mr. Couch said he expects a large contingency of resi dents to attend the Dec. 12 trustees' meeting to complain about the firing range. The meeting will be at 7 p.m. at the township administration building, 6032 Morris Road.

        Township Trustee Joe McAbee said complaints about the firing range are not new.

        “This pops up every once in a while, but it's time to fix it,” he said. “We've asked for a legal opinion on what we can do and can't do from a township perspective, and once we find out — and with our conversation with the city of Hamilton — then we'll know how to proceed.”


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