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Posted: 10/22/2002 3:18:59 PM EDT
Our small gun club in S.W. Pa. is on the ropes. Over the years, since 1949, rural developement has taken its toll on our outdoor range use. The two hundred yard range hosted highpower rifle matches. We can no longer use this range. We currantly only have in operation a small outdoor pistol range and a indoor pistol range indoor small bore riflr range of the club house. We can not survive on 34 members, their dues and the small profits off the ranges mentioned. Our statis is this. We are incorperated and non-profit. We have our taxes and insurances paid up for a year. After that, we are done. Question, can we sell the club before the county/state takes over? If so, where do the proceeds go? To sell and start another club, is highly unlikely as there is nothing nearby to support a gun club with noise pollution laws etc. shutting us down again in the very near future. Any attorney's advice will be appreciated! Thanks in advance. Dave McGrath
Link Posted: 10/22/2002 3:55:00 PM EDT
Why was the rifle range shut down? Was it a noise (nuisance) issue, a safety issue? If that range is the key to viability, then you need to get it up and running again and get that word out. Noise abatement walls or a better burm may allow this. The club may have to incur debt to do this, but if it can make the club viable again, then it's may be worth doing. Was the range shut down by the govt or by people that moved into the area and complained? Otherwise, this sounds like a marketing/financial problem and less a legal one. If the club does shut down, then distribution of the non-profit corp's assets will probably be governed by the articles and applicable state law. Any general practice atty in PA should be able to answer this question pretty easily if you provide the documents. The problem with the questions that you ask, like so many others, is that they are governed by state law...so you need someone that practices in your state.
Link Posted: 10/22/2002 6:29:29 PM EDT
Thanks for the reply dbrowne1: The range was shut down because someone placed a house on the distant hill directly behind our impact area. This was about three years ago. The residents of the area have been on us for years about noise. On site protests led to arrests. It got ugly. We are grandfathered under Pa. laws of 1988 for range noise pollution. They didn't have a leg to stand on. After three years of noise, I guess they figured it time to shoot their house or have someone do it. Almost impossible to do with the distance, angle, the elevation, and heavy timber in between. However, the local government and its solisitor, threated our club BOD to close the money making range to try to save the other ranges. The state police are investagating the incident. However, thats been almost four months. They don't really seem to be interested knowing the circumstances and the fact the ranges are closed. We shot a reduced course of fire in NRA Highpower. It was our money maker and our noise maker. Precision shooting all the way. Then we get blamed for a hardly possible stray shot. Then there is the road that leads to that house. It was nothing but a cow path and really still is, but the new residents travel it to get to their house on the hill behind the impact area. Get the picture? What a mess! We were barely making ends meet and now to hire lawyers, hell we can't make a retainer fee! Thats the reason for my question. Thanks again; Dave Mc
Link Posted: 10/22/2002 7:18:22 PM EDT
Dave, You are definitely protected in PA. Don't give up. We have the same trouble at our range, very close neighbors...and a new home going up as I write this. Our club has been here (South Central PA)the since 1930's, with over 900 members. We limit firing and practice from 8 a.m. to dusk (and to 11pm for the indoor range) Anyway, we started sending flyers out to all of our "new neighbors" notifying them of our Highpower Match dates and other Noise events. So far, so good. And, although you and I probably would look at living near a rifle range positively, you have to wonder why a non-shooter would build a house near a rifle club. You might want to contact some neighboring clubs and see if you can start up a (I hate to say this ) outdoor smallbore league on the 200 yard range. And follow drowne1's suggestion...higher berms, noise abatement...maybe convert the Highpower range to a 100 yard reduced course...try to bring in new people. Thirty-four members just ain't enough. Sponsor Hunter Saftey courses, and if you have some NRA certified instructors hold some Youth Day shoots. Ultimately you need to become more visible in the community. And contact the NRA, they have LOADS of range improvement information. They gave our club a huge 3-ring binder full of possibilities. -Fred
Link Posted: 10/22/2002 7:40:02 PM EDT
Ok, I would contact NRA range development as the other poster recommended. This sounds like the people that live downrange are idiots that "came to the nuisance" themselves. Apparently noise is not an issue under PA law, so range safety is what they are trying to use. What I think you should do is develop a plan to make the range "stray shot-proof". My club went through this some years ago (before I joined). Higher backstop is the cheapest way, or you can do what my club did and construct several barriers above the line of fire down the length of the range. This makes it literally impossible to go over the berm. Once you have developed a plan for this, take it to solicitor and explain it to him (maybe NRA Range Development can help organize this). Failing that, hopefully the State Police have their heads on straight and will conclude it wasn't your fault. By the way, who owns that "cow path"? If the club owns it (or if the homeowners don't have an easement from whoever does own it) then you have some leverage over them. My guess is you have some serious negotiation angles you could work here...you need to get up with a gun-friendly lawyer in PA who handles these types of issues. NRA has a list of them, so call them up and explain. Have the club president explain everything you have posted to the lawyer - initial consult should cost nothing. Goatman's suggestion about expanding the club's activities is also an excellent one.
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