Posted May 2, 2016 at 3:47 PM
The state is down to land in four Eastern Connecticut towns to consider for a proposed state police firearms training facility.
Jeffrey Beckham, of the Department of Administrative Services, confirmed Monday that owners of sites in Hampton and Voluntown have withdrawn their properties from consideration.
Roger Burten, one of the leaders of the No Gun Range Hampton group, said he and other residents are breathing a sigh of relief now that his town is no longer an option.
“We are sleeping soundlessly without thoughts of gunfire,” he said.
The withdrawn sites are Sand Hill Road in Hampton and 860 Pendleton Hill Road, Voluntown. Those properties join the Snyder Road parcel in Griswold,and sites in East Windsor and Willington as areas nixed for the project.
State officials removed East Windsor and Willington last month citing a desire to be “good neighbors.”
Burten said he likes to think the daily barrage of petitions, emails and calls from protesters to various state officials pushed landowners to withdraw.
A petition opposing the project in Hampton received 394 names, another asked for a referendum to use $100,000 of town funds for legal fees to fight the project, and an online petition had more than 400 names in opposition, Burten said, and residents wasted no time in speaking out.
“We were in full sprint immediately. We felt we had to do it that way even though the (Department of Administrative Services) told us nothing was official,” he said. “We wanted to be proactive rather than reactive to a decision that would imperil us great post to read.”
Properties in Voluntown, Sprague, Griswold and Canterbury are still under consideration.
Skye Cohen, with Keep Voluntown Quiet, said work still needs to be done to remove all Voluntown sites from the list.
“The only way to be entirely safe in town is to get the bills that would stop the project passed or the other property owners to withdraw,” he said.
One of those bills would prevent the state from constructing the training facility on land the state doesn’t already own or lease, a requirement that would eliminate the properties from the running. Another bill would require the state to purchase land for a range and then convey that property to the host community. That bill also would require the range to install soundproofing material. Read more here.