Skeet grounded, neighbors talk

GHENT–It appears that the sides have made headway the application by the Kinderhook Sportsmen’s Club to expand. After having been at odds with its neighbors over expanded uses, structures, noise and hours of operation, the club has now agreed to shut down its skeet range and has begun discussions with neighbors on other various issues.

Despite its name the Kinderhook Sportsmen’s Club is located in Ghent on Fowler Lake Road. Over several years it has added and expanded various structures on its property, including a skeet range built in 2008. Since the club is a prior nonconforming use as defined by town zoning law, it can expand up to 50%. But those expansions require a variance from the town Zoning Board of Appeals and site plan approval from the town Planning Board. Last October Ghent Zoning Enforcement Officer Gil Raab sent the club a letter stating that several structures on site were in violation of town code due to lack of required permits and that the club needed to apply for a variance for the expansions already completed. The club has submitted its application for a variance that would permit the expansion.

Mitch Khosrova, an attorney representing neighbors of the club, said during a phone call last month that the expansions dramatically impacted the residents in the area. An increase in activities and events at the club , says Mr. Khosrova, has resulted in more noise nuisance for neighbors.

“Neighbors want to be able to hold a barbeque on a certain time on a holiday weekend and know that there’s not going to be consistent shooting going on,” he said.

He said safety was also a concern among neighbors. For example, the skeet range was about 300 feet from the neighboring property. The recommended distance by the NRA is 900 feet. “This is about expansion beyond what was permitted,” he said. “What the neighbors want is just for the club to be permitted to do what it is allowed to do under the law.”

Town Attorney Ted Guterman said that the Zoning Board of Appeals is looking the extent of the club’s expansion and how the activity at the site has changed. The town Zoning and Planning boards are reviewing the application together, but before either of the boards can make a decision, town officials must conduct a State Environmental Quality Review (SEQR).

“No decision is valid without SEQR first,” Mr. Guterman said.

He said that at a joint meeting of the boards in May the Planning Board announced that Town Engineer Ray Jurkowski would require an $8,000 escrow payment from the club in order to move forward with the environmental review. Mr. Guterman said the club is now requesting the town reduce the escrow amount.

Planning Board Chairman Jonathan Walters told The Columbia Paper that the club has agreed to close the skeet range permanently, citing that decision as the reason the club sought to have the escrow amount reduced. Removing the skeet range from the application will mean less for the town engineer to review during the SEQR process.

Mr. Khosrova said he believes “there was a recognition that it was probably not thought out properly and didn’t meet minimum safety and health recommendations for distances.”

The club has also begun a dialogue with the neighbors to discuss the neighbors’ concerns, including hours of operation and noise levels.

“We’re in negotiations,” said club President David Newkirk, adding that he could not go into detail.

Mr. Walters said he is hopeful the club and its neighbors can work things out. Mr. Khosrova said the neighbors have tried to have these discussions many times in the past, but now is the first time the club is willing to talk.

“I think that’s because the town is doing their job and enforcing their laws the same way they are for the residents in the town,” said Mr. Khosrova. “We’re happy to see that.”

The town Zoning Board of Appeals and Planning Board will meet jointly again June 12, when officials will discuss the environmental review of the club’s application.

 

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