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Township to Hire Land-Use Attorney for Gun Club Dispute

Ongoing dispute requires review by independent attorney, officials say.

Gloucester Township intends to hire an independent land-use attorney to review a contentious dispute in Erial between residents of a 55-and-older community and a nearby gun club.

Township Council at its work session Monday night agreed to allow Business Administrator Tom Cardis to team with Solicitor David Carlamere to prepare a request for proposals/request for qualifications (RFP/RFQ) for the job. Council is expected to approve a resolution at its Dec. 27 meeting allowing the township to advertise the RFP/RFQ.

The contract would likely run in the $10,000 range, Carlamere estimated.

Iron Horse Rifle and Pistol Club has been using a piece of farmland off Garwood Road for its firing ranges for decades now.

Residents at Four Seasons at Forest Meadows aren't so sure the firing ranges aren't posing a threat to their safety, and are certain the sounds of shotguns, rifles, and other high-caliber firearms are infringing on their ability to live in peace as they expected when they moved to the otherwise sleepy development.

Iron Horse has been using the property, now owned by Watson Waddell, since 1959—long before Four Seasons community was erected in the early 2000s.

Opponents of the firing range claim Iron Horse has gone from a pistol range to much more in recent years, with decibel levels increasing significantly sometime in late 2009 and early 2010.

The hired attorney would review, among other documents, lot subdivisions in the area in question and the chain of title for and a will involving the Waddell property.

Carlamere noted some prior land-use requests and subdivisions were approved by township planning and zoning boards.

"We thought it best to get somebody independent, outside of the township, to review this," Carlamere said.

The firing range is a pre-existing non-conforming use—one that a municipality cannot just "zone out" due to complaints by neighbors.

"At one time, zoning might have permitted that (land include a firing range)," Carlamere said. "But whether it did or not, in the '70s and '80s when the land-use laws really developed and the zoning changed, that made that existing use a non-conforming use, and you really can't zone out a non-conforming use. You can control it from expanding and all of those things, but you can't zone out a pre-existing non-conforming use."

Exactly what it was Iron Horse was approved to do on the property seems to be at the heart of this dispute.

A description on Iron Horse Rifle and Pistol Club's Yahoo! group page notes that Waddell's mother, Roxanne, allowed the group to begin using her land for target practice in 1959 "with the stipulations that we observe the Sabbath and respect God's creations."

Four Seasons residents claim the firing range is being used on Sundays.

Gloucester Township Police Chief W. Harry Earle reported to Council in May 2011 that Iron Horse's Erial firing ranges met all safety standards.

True Dat December 07, 2012 at 04:37 PM
The GT government is spending $10K to hire someone to review the rules and transactions enacted by the GT government. What are we paying the folks at Town Hall to do?
True Dat December 07, 2012 at 04:43 PM
If there weren't zoning issues, what is GT Council's position for the use of this land?
Ed Bak December 07, 2012 at 05:48 PM
Move if you don't like it. That gun club was there long before you. Look at Atco raceway, they have to put up with the same nonsense.
Joe December 07, 2012 at 07:47 PM
The Town wants someone else to tell these people they should forget it and that they have no recourse.
Michelle Wolfson December 07, 2012 at 11:17 PM
A good time to review all of the legalities and semantics of all this would have been BEFORE building residential developments adjacent to a firing range.
OCNJ December 08, 2012 at 12:22 AM
Actually how about the people who bought the homes next to a gun club. If it wasn't for these home owners then it would not be an issue. You can make excuses all you want but I bet many of these people were not aware or even bothered to check the area out before signing on the line. Similar to people who buy homes on highways and main roadways then complain about speeding cars or the noise, which I seem to recall awhile back was an issue in GT from someone with a house near Route 42 in Blackwood. I think Joe hit the nail on the head but what a shame to have to waste this money.
Joe December 08, 2012 at 01:39 AM
The people who sold the houses claim they informed all the buyers of the range. I think it's on thier deeds. Although they should be asked to produce one to varify it.
Darren Gladden December 08, 2012 at 03:16 PM
Just another one of the friends getting pay BACK , OMG this mayor and Council have no clue just spend and tax the people to death and pArty away Hey put up another red light cam or Better yet take someone house away for 60 bucks .....OMG you People in office today "Stink" ......Hey Mayor just go "SIR" ...... One last thing sTOP FEEDING THE LAWYERS AND STUDY teams peeps 'MONEY" and go out and get stuff done that matters ...OMG I think I'm sick again ....Ler's play a tune and cheer up http://youtu.be/jHPOzQzk9Qo Jcid
D. H. December 09, 2012 at 02:59 AM
These people moved in with the gun club there. Tough, think before you move next to a gun club that's been there for over 50 years! Stupid people, they must be libtards...
Joel Cohen December 11, 2012 at 02:27 AM
"A description on Iron Horse Rifle and Pistol Club's Yahoo! group page notes that Waddell's mother, Roxanne, allowed the group to begin using her land for target practice in 1959 "with the stipulations that we observe the Sabbath and respect God's creations." Four Seasons residents claim the firing range is being used on Sundays. Well at least we now know there are no Jews living in the Four Seasons since the Sabbath is actually a Saturday thing not a Sunday thing.
Joe December 11, 2012 at 01:00 PM
Observing the Sabbath according to past pratice by all accounts was, no shooting until noon on Sunday. Not no shooting at all. Nice try. :(
shortbus rider April 02, 2013 at 03:02 AM
Stupid old people they're should be a law that they can't go to shop rite on Saturday they had all week while I was at work
Fluffy April 05, 2013 at 04:07 PM
I think Watson should build apartment there to drown out the noise.

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