A Letter From the Quiet Corner

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If we were forced to move, we would not be able to sell our houses at the current levels: property values will naturally plummet if this structure is located here. Who wants to buy a house in what sounds like a war zone?-Hampton Resident

As a concerned citizen of Hampton and an active member of the newly-formed  “No Gun Range in Hampton” committee I am writing to express my opposition to locating the State Police firearms training range in my neighborhood.   I live on Windham Rd., which borders the south side of the Derigan parcel in question: this property is literally right across the street from me.  Installing the gun range facility here would be catastrophic for me and for many residents of Hampton.  

You are quoted as saying that the state is looking for potential sites that are  “in relatively remote areas, far away from critical infrastructure such as schools.”  Although this is a large parcel of land, it is not at all “remote” in location. What we have here is a neighborhood. It does not look like a typical suburban neighborhood, where the houses sit on small lots fairly close together and are all built by the same developer, but it is nevertheless a community.  Many of us chose to locate here because the zoning laws provide for larger lots (2-acre minimum).  We wanted the small-town feeling and the privacy and peace afforded by being surrounded by more green space than in a typical suburban setting. There are 2 organic farms (including mine) and 2 horse farms in the immediate vicinity. Hampton Elementary School is only 2 miles away. Far from being a “bedroom community,” our neighborhood consists of many people who do work from home: we will have to close our businesses due to the noise pollution and constant gunfire during business hours. There are retired military here, hoping to escape the sounds of gunfire and struggling with PTSD, a renowned artist with a studio in the immediate area – and so many other stories. All of us who live here would be adversely affected by this.  If we were forced to move, we would not be able to sell our houses at the current levels: property values will naturally plummet if this structure is located here. Who wants to buy a house in what sounds like a war zone?

In addition to my small organic farm, I also teach piano in my home.  I will not be able to continue either occupation with a gun range across the street.  If the range creates a lead pollution situation in the soil or water my well could become unsafe. There is a culvert which brings meltwater and run-off from the Derigan property under Windham Rd. and directly onto my land. It forms a small stream which eventually winds down into a large wetlands area on the south side of my land and the adjoining Hemphill property, now owned by Joshua’s Trust. All of this water eventually ends up in the Little River.  There are some very serious environmental concerns here. Many of us townspeople were aghast when the state officials were asked if any lead contamination tests had ever been done on the existing site in Simsbury: the answer was no, never.  

At the town meeting on April 6th, we Hampton residents received some vague assurances from state officials and police officers that all concerns (including noise pollution) would be “addressed.” I am not persuaded or reassured by this statement.  I am convinced that our concerns cannot possibly be addressed to our satisfaction. The officials who showed up knew nothing about our town: they didn’t even realize that we have not a single stoplight here in Hampton.  The acoustical properties of this valley are certainly not known to them, yet we residents can all tell you that this valley rings like a crystal bowl.  Sound travels clearly for long distances because of the topographical peculiarities of this valley.  We can hear dogs barking, gunshots, traffic from Rt. 6 and farm equipment – all from miles away. There is no amount of noise-reduction abatement the state can do at this site which will prevent the incessant sound of gunfire from ruining our lives and our livelihoods. It is simply not an acceptable site, and there is no way the state can ever create a situation in which this would be an acceptable site.

My partner and I bought this place almost 20 years ago and have loved living here and working the land as small-scale certified-organic food producers. Fearing development, we combined forces with another local farmer around the corner and bought up frontage land on Windham Rd. and Canterbury Rd. in order to put it into open space. The previous owner had intended to put 5 building lots on it and we felt that we had helped preserve Hampton’s rural character and way of life with this purchase. A few years ago we closed on a conservation easement for our land with Joshua’s Trust. We consider it our legacy, our small way of helping to preserve open space and agricultural land in the face of encroaching development. Our place was attractive to Joshua’s Trust because they were already purchasing the Hemphill property: the prospect of combining parcels for the sake of conservation and wildlife corridor potential was important. Siting a gun range just north of this will ruin all of our conservation efforts. I find it curious that the DEEP official who attended the town meeting kept insisting that the state land under the DEEP restrictions could never be used for a gun range, because “they can’t do what they need to do if there’s a gun range there.” The exact same thing could be said of our private conservation efforts: we also cannot do what we intend if you build this training facility here. Additionally, we will suffer in retirement when it is time to sell the place.  Because our primary income is tied to this real estate investment, we won’t be able to get the money we should for the property and our future as retirees will be in jeopardy.

The State Police need to find a better location: somewhere not smack in the middle of a peaceful small-town neighborhood.

 

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