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Springfield limits hours of shooting except for hunting

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More than 100 people filed into Springtown’s fire hall last week to show their opposition to proposed shooting restrictions.

But their anger — stoked in part by social media posts — abated after Springfield supervisors decided only to limit hours of shooting on private properties and any new shooting ranges to between 7 a.m. to dusk, with no restrictions on Sundays or other days of the week.

There would be no bans on private properties, no limit on the number of people shooting on private properties, no change to lot sizes; furthermore, noise regulations would still not apply to gun users despite numerous complaints.

“If you’re hunting, none of this applies,” added Township Manager Mike Brown, “including at 2 a.m in the morning with spotlights.”

Still, one resident, Alan Huntzinger, had an issue, saying some could mistake hunting, protected by state law, for casual shooting and call the authorities. “We’re tired of being the Boogeyman,” Huntzinger continued. “Traditions are being used as tools against us.”

Former township Police Chief Robert Bell, who has had a range for 50 years, noted that sometimes police forces have to practice at night. Bell was told that he could qualify for a nonconforming use and take his appeal to the zoning hearing board.

The township was tasked with developing regulations at the suggestion of the county after it was found that its zoning ordinance did not adequately address the issue. Supervisors discussed requiring range operators to submit an environmental management plan every five years. They would also face light, dust, and emissions restrictions, and a requirement that the facility not be within 1,000 feet of a church, school or child care facility.

Those requirements would only apply to new shooting ranges, not the two existing shooting clubs in the township.

“We don’t anticipate anyone rushing to put in a firearms target range,” said Supervisor Chairman Dave Long, “but this is the remedy.”

Long acknowledged the passion over the issue but said the township was charged with protecting public safety and welfare. “The last thing we want to happen is someone killed by a stray bullet.”

During public comment, Pat Maginnis of the Springtown Rod and Gun Club asked if the proposed regulations would apply to special exhibitions or demonstrations by an invited group. “There need to be exemptions to your ordinance,” he said.

In other news, Police Chief Mike McDonald informed the meeting that that an electronic ticketing system was in finally place. The system allows officers to scan a driver’s license to populate a ticket and print it out in their vehicle. The board also agreed to spend $10,130 on a Road Department mower.


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