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Riverhead Planning Board requires hearing for firearm testing site

The Riverhead Planning Board will require Baits & Barrels to have a public hearing on its proposal to locate an 8-foot by 50-foot, portable self-contained firearm testing range at its site.

Baits & Barrels is located at the former site of Fishermen’s Deli on West Main Street in Riverhead and sells hunting- and fishing-related items along the Peconic River. 

Fishermen’s Deli previously sold bait and tackle and rented boats from the same location, according to town planning aide Greg Bergman. 

Baits & Barrels, which began operating about four years ago, last year received a favorable determination from the town Zoning Board of Appeals that stated that the gun container is an accessory use to the store, and thus is a permitted use. 

The ZBA ruling put in a condition that the firearms testing container shall not be open to the public solely as a shooting range, and that it must be used only as an accessory to firearms repair and sales. 

At last Thursday’s Planning Board meeting, Mr. Bergman said the Planning Board could allow the application to be approved as an administrative site plan, whereby the planning department could approve the application without a Planning Board vote. 

But Planning Board members said there were concerns about noise issues brought up by two speakers at the ZBA hearings last year. 

The applicant provided statistics showing that the sound of a gun fired from 25 feet away would produce a sound louder than what is permitted by the town noise code. However, at 50 feet away, the sound does not exceed the noise code and the nearest neighbors are 80 feet away. 

“But just the sound of a gun, a popping sound, it startles people,” Planning Board chair Stan Carey said. He suggested having a public hearing. 

The board majority agreed and voted 4-1 to require the public hearing. 

Planning Board member George Nunnaro, who opposed the hearing, suggested requiring some type of fencing to mute the sound.

The board has not set the date for the hearing yet.