Since May 2014, Camden County residents have been without firing range due to a Superior Court ruling in favor of the County Commission’s voiding of a special use permit issued to Oakwell Armory. The permit was voided due to complaints about the noise of automatic gunfire and alleged explosions and Oakwell had to shut down their range operations. In April of 2016, The National Rifle Association awarded a $25,000 grant for a new proposed gun range that is expected to be located off Highway 110 near the Camden County landfill. Also, the county has also received an additional grant of $500,000 from the Georgia Department of Natural Resources to help create an acceptable gun range, but the completion of a noise study and a meeting with the county commissions will need to occur before the gun range project can move forward.
AllOnGeorgia-Camden asked county officials when the range is expected to be operational since the $500,000 grant period expires in Sept. 2018 per a county email communication. According to Sheriff Jim Proctor, said “I anticipate the range being completed and open to the public before the expiration of the grant period” and an intergovernmental agreement is awaiting the signature from the County Commissioners after they meet with sound engineers about the noise study. Sheriff Proctor said that “two prior meetings were canceled that we set up to handle this back in November.”
County Manager Steve Howard also said that the County Commissioners were waiting on the newly elected commissioners so they can also review the noise study. Howard believes that the County Commissioners are expected to have a work session and hearing within the next thirty days to discuss the gun range project. Howard is confident there will be movement on the range project citing there will be a 20-year commitment to the gun range.
Howard Davis, owner of Oakwell Armory, said the County Commissioners are “dragging their feet” and he has been working with Sheriff Proctor on the range since January of 2013. Davis said he is also ready to help progress the range by donating his equipment totaling $20,000.
Gun Range Noise Study
The study reports that data were measured at 32.8 feet from the direction of the muzzle and sound is typically louder in the direction the firearm is discharged. Noise is typically louder with firearms with longer barrels. The study further describes variables that are currently present to lessen noise levels such as the landfill along with recommending noise barriers at the proposed range to accommodate for seasonal changes and other noise abatements. The criteria of the study were also based on characteristics of associated with rural areas. The study states that “[b]ecause the Camden County Shooting Range will be located in a rural setting, it is recommended that the lower end of the annoyance criteria be utilized at this stage.” The study further reports that “[s]ince the property is outside of any incorporated city, there does not appear to be a local noise ordinance in place other than State of Georgia Statute 41-1-9.”
According to the conclusion of the gun range noise study, dated May 20, 2016 states the following:
Overall, calculations around the range looks good due to the lack of residents in the area. The selected prediction locations primarily consist of road intersections as the available locations containing houses or other structures were limited. The only prediction locations that appear to have residences are Location 4, Location 10, and Location 11. These areas all measure in the “Green” range where annoyance would not be expected, except for Location 10 for the two rifle ranges. Location 10 indicates that the predicted sound levels are at the lower end of the uncertainty range.
- Predicted sound levels are all in the Green range for the pistol range.
- Locations 10, 11, and 12 benefit from the increased attenuation available to the rear of the shooting range. Location 10 receives higher sound levels than the other two locations due to the reduced distance and the angle that is more to the side than to the rear of the range.
- The relatively flat terrain in this coastal area does not result in significant terrain barriers between the shooting range and the prediction location. Location 4 experiences the lowest predicted levels as the landfill serves as a raised barrier between the shooting range and this receiving location.
The entire gun range noise study can be viewed HERE.
To view grant amounts and related documents click HERE.