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SAVE OUR RANGE

The Land Lease with the Town of Nantucket for the Shooting Park property is up for renewal in April. The Town Select board will be discussing the renewal during a March 24th  Select Board meeting. The NHA needs your help to show the Town officials and Select Board the overwhelming need and support for a safe, clean, and organized shooting facility on Nantucket. It is known that there is opposition to this project, and they have already communicated their opposition to the Select Board.

The following is an explanation of activities and events that happen during the process of the NHA trying to develop a shooting range. This does not include everything that happened or the details of each, but I hope it depicts the efforts and sacrifices made along the way.

 

In 2003, members of the Nantucket Hunting Association decided to approach Town officials about creating a formal, permitted shooting range on Town owned land that was being used as an informal shooting range for decades. The idea was to follow all the rules and regulations to create a much cleaner and safer range for all community members to enjoy. Two separate Town warrant articles were presented at town meetings receiving more than a 2/3 majority vote by Nantucket voters. Plant and insect studies were conducted, local and state permits applied for including endangered species permit. Site plans and management studies received unanimous approval by the Planning Board but there were many delays and concessions made along the way. Some of the delays and sacrifices included:

  • The Town taking two and a half years to release a request for proposal on the land lease and to finalize the initial lease. Town vote            received April 2004. Lease signed Dec. 2006.

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  • In 2007, an application to the ZBA was submitted and then put on hold to negotiate a memorandum of understanding with residents and abutters. ZBA postponed a second and third time to discuss concerns with the Town about future tank farm and future concrete plant. Residents of Wigwam Rd. (mostly part-time) challenged the project at the ZBA. Noise demonstrations and studies conducted. When ZBA requested full engineered plans, the application was withdrawn to re-apply at the Planning Board level.

  • In December 2008, Selectman informed the NHA they intended to cancel the land lease for not starting construction within two years per a clause in the lease. After arguing our case and a show of support, the Selectman agreed to negotiate a new lease for a reduced amount of land (46 acres down to 27 acres). The new lease included many restrictions to help address the concerns made by the Wigwam Rd. residents. New lease was signed April of 2011, more than two years later! The Wigwam residents sued the Selectman for signing the lease.

  • While negotiating lease terms, and a possible settlement to enclose the range with financial contributions from the Wigwam Rd. opposition the NHA applied for and received a Community Preservation Committee (CPC) Grant for over $400k in April 2012. Wigwam Rd. opposition appealed this award in court and eventually won the case with the money being returned due to regulations being open to interpretation.

  • In July 2012, Major Commercial Development (MCD) permit application submitted to the Planning Board. Residents (mostly Wigwam Rd.) challenged the application at multiple hearings, eventually appealing the board’s decision to grant a permit with the Land Court.  The Land court took no action for 2 and a half years due to inaccurate records indicating the two parties were in private settlement negotiations. In January of 2018, after a full trial, the Land Court made judgement in favor of the planning board’s decision. The opposition continued to appeal this decision at the Appeals Court and again at the Supreme Judicial Court where the case was refused.   

  • Massachusetts Endangered Species Act permit was put on hold during permit appeal litigation. The permit process resumed in July 2019 with some delays in getting the consultant re-engaged and the state permitting staff conducting an extremely focused and slow preliminary review of the Conservation Management Plan due to the controversial history of this project.

 

During this 17-year long process, The NHA has continued to pay our monthly land lease fee to the Town for 13 years (2007-2020) for land we cannot use until the required permits are granted. In summary, the NHA has been trying to do the right thing by following all the rules to provide the Island with a centralized shooting range that is safe and environmentally friendly, thereby preventing sporadic shooting activities spread out across the Island. We gave up 19 acres of land to help the Town develop the industrial park. To appease those in opposition to a shooting range, we accepted lease and permit restrictions that include limiting the use of the range to one weekday only during July and August, a 24-hour complaint line and an advisory board to include area residential association members and abutting landowners. The ownership and use of a firearms are legal and there needs to be a place where citizens can shoot. There are those that will continue to oppose the Nantucket Shooting Park and they will raise concerns that were already vetted and mitigated in multiple boards and court rooms. Some that oppose the Shooting Park have in the past and will in the future make non-factual statements.  I urge the Select Board to focus on the facts and consider the needs of all Nantucket residents when deciding to renew the land lease for the Nantucket Shooting Park.

Please use the information in the above paragraph to write the Select Board in your own words why you think they need to support the Shooting Park by renewing the lease.

Thank You For Your Support!

Steven Holdgate and the Shooting Park Committee