Tactical facility doesn't belong in New Kent

I write in response to the article in the June 23 Virginia Gazette titled “Residents organize opposition to proposed shooting range.” I was dismayed to read the presentation of facts on the Curtis Security Consulting Inc. CUP-02-18 proposal, now before the New Kent County Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors, to build a counter-terrorism/tactical training facility in the heart of Barhamsville.

Very few details were included, and so I will outline some here.

This is more than a shooting range. It is a massive building project. It will be privately owned and managed, not government owned and not open to the public. Contracts are not limited to U.S. military. According to the proposal, the Curtis facility would have up to 120 trainees daily during daylight and in darkness. It would operate six days per week, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., and to 11 p.m. up to three nights per week. There will be a ballistic shoot house, and five live-fire outdoor ranges with up to 15 trainees per range, which means as many as 75 shooting at any time. There will be Tactical Sound Infusion episodes allowed several times per day, with those at night requiring notification of the sheriff’s department in advance, because the level of noise will be so loud. It will have a bunkhouse for 40 and a mess facility.

Safety is the biggest concern.

This parcel is surrounded by Farmers Drive, Tabernacle Road and Holly Fork Road, with several connecting roads that are home to many residences, family farms, a winery, several horse farms, a llama farm, churches and The Poor Clares Monastery — a cloistered monastic community of contemplative nuns. And the roads bordering this parcel are used as a school bus route that transports children four times in the morning and four times in the afternoon.

There are serious concerns about the environmental impacts. Contamination of the soil, wells and aquifer from millions of spent lead bullets would devastate the community where there are no public utilities. Their proposed plan for lead abatement is highly inadequate. There will also likely be an impact on bird populations, which would include several Bald Eagle nests in the area.

I have not even touched on the fact that all property values would plummet, impacting the biggest investment most homeowners make in their lifetime, and it would also impact future business development in the county. To Curtis it is just a business, but to those of us here it is our homes and our life.

The CUP-02-18 proposal does not fit the comprehensive plan of New Kent County. And New Kent County Code, Article XIX, Section 98, specifically states: “No Combat-type ranges shall be permitted.” The code was enacted April 9, 2018, with most current version dated May 3, 2018. The code is available online.

The Curtis Group training facility would forever devastate Barhamsville and New Kent communities, but will also impact Upper James City County residents in Stonehouse, Kings Village, and others, such as Dream Catchers Therapeutic Horse Riding. It is an entirely unsafe and inappropriate project to drop into an already well-established community, threatening the safety of residents, children, businesses, and animals. The New Kent County Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors need to protect the residents and vote against the Curtis CUP-02-18 proposal. To learn more details, please go to nocombatrangenk.com.

Marlene Jack

Barhamsville

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