Cumberland County moves forward with firing range plan
Posted August 19, 2010 5:47 p.m. EDT
Updated August 20, 2010 2:43 p.m. EDT
Cumberland County, N.C. — The opponents of a planned firing range fell a vote short Thursday night when the Cumberland County Board of Adjustment failed to reverse a decision of the county Planning Department to allow development of the the TigerSwan Collaborative Training Center near Cedar Creek.
The complex will open on 250 acres leased Stewart Precythe next month. The entire complex – a total of seven firing ranges – is expected to be complete by May 2011.
A group called Citizens for the Preservation of Cedar Creek and Neighboring Communities registered their concern about the development citing safety, noise, lead contamination, wildlife and farming impacts, traffic increase, decreased property values and potential for expansion.
After hearing from both sides for more than three hours Thursday evening, the board voted 3-2 to reverse the plan, but that wasn't enough. A four-fifths vote is required.
Engineer Gordon Rose and Billy Buckner, public relations manager for TigerSwan, tried to allay those worries.
Rose's company, Black River Design and Build, designed the berms – long, flat-topped pyramids – that encompass the firing range.
"They are probably 50 feet wide at the bottom and made of dense sand and clay and topsoil that should stop any bullets that would hit it," Rose said.
The property borders dense woods, and the closest home is more than a mile away.
Buckner said safety is paramount for TigerSwan, a business headquartered in Apex and founded by former members of the elite, Fort Bragg-based Delta Force. On Thursday, the company announced a partnership with the North Carolina Department of Correction to provide training for special operations teams.
The Cumberland County center will be used to train soldiers, law enforcement, even hunters, Buckner said.
“What you’ll see is law enforcement, Department of Defense and other agencies that have a need to have a high level of marksmanship, proficiency and tactical skills,” he said.
"We are, first of all, going to make sure it's a world-class facility and that it meets all those guidelines. We make that commitment to the community," Buckner said.
He doesn't deny that a shooting range is noisy.
"But what we're trying to do is reduce that to a point where it doesn't become a distraction to the community," he said.