Pennsylvania Firearm Owners Association
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
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    West Alexander, Pennsylvania
    (Washington County)
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    Default Donegal Township tries to pass broad Firing Range Ordinance

    Donegal Township, Washington County almost ends weekend shooting on private property. Was it on purpose or just a poorly written ordinance, but I was at the December, 2015 Township Meeting of Donegal Township when the township attorney quickly read the ordinance below and then the board tried to vote on it before I spoke up and had the vote delayed until next meeting. The ordinance below has not been edited by me, this is the exact wording they tried to pass last month.

    From my reading of this ordinance, including my attorney's opinion, this means anybody who sets up a little private shooting area on their property and shoots more then 15 days a year on their private property will be considered a Firing Range and will be forced to have at least 100 acres of land plus carry a $1,000,000 insurance policy and have to follow a wide range of building requirements of berms and sound reduction systems, this includes archery. So if you setup a hay bale in your backyard and shoot arrows at it more then 15 times a year, you will be in violation of this ordinance.

    If you live in Donegal Township, then you should attend the January meeting and express your opinion. Now this ordinance was written because of our gun range, make no mistake about that, but once you start nick picking our rights away to run a business, it's going to affect others. While we are going to be grandfathered in for the most part and not be affected by this ordinance, weekend shooters will be affected.

    My attorney has sent the township a letter stating our opinion of this ordinance and have asked multiple questions, so hopefully we will hear back before they attempt another vote.

    ------------------------------
    ------------------------------
    DONEGAL TOWNSHIP
    SAMPLE REGULATIONS FOR OUTDOOR FIRING RANGE

    ZONING DISTRICTS:
    - Wherever it is located, it should be a Conditional Use, not a Permitted Use.

    DEFINITION:
    FIRING RANGE (OUTDOOR): A facility, including its component shooting ranges, ammunition/weapon launch areas, safety fans or shotfall zones, parking areas, all structures for classrooms, administrative offices, ammunition and equipment storage areas and other associated improvements, designed for the purpose of providing a place for the discharge of various types of firearms, explosives or the practice of archery. This shall not include occasional target practice by individuals on property owned or leased by the individuals, sighting of weapons for purposes of hunting or pleasure on a property no more than 15 days in any calendar year.

    REGULATIONS:
    A. Minimum Lot Area: 100 acres
    B. Site Plan: A detailed site plan sealed by a certified engineer attesting that the proposed plan incorporates the specific safety and applicable design standards for outdoor firing range and live fire shoot as set out in Section 4, Outdoor Range Design; Section 6, Live Fire Shoot House of the Range Design Criteria (as amended from time to time) as published by the US Department of Energy’s Office of Health, Safety and Security for the type of range proposed. The detailed site plan shall show the boundary of the subject property in its entirety and shall further disclose all existing uses, if discernible, and structures within a distance of 300 feet from the property boundary.
    C. A narrative description of the measures employed:
    (a) to control unauthorized access to the facility when weapons are being discharged;
    (b) to prevent projectiles from leaving the site;
    (c) to mitigate noise; and
    (d) to mitigate potential lead contamination of the groundwater.
    D. Surface danger zones shall be located entirely on the subject property and shall be designed to contain all projectiles and debris caused by the type of ammunition, targets and activities to be used or to occur on the property. The layout of the proposed range(s) with the accompanying safety fans shall be delineated on the required site plan for each/all range(s) to be constructed on the property. All firing stations shall be setback a minimum of 200 feet from the boundary of the of the subject property.
    E. A firing range facility must have access to an approved private street or a public street in order for emergency vehicles to be able to properly ingress/egress the property in the event of an emergency.
    F. Unauthorized access to the firing range facility shall be controlled while firearms are being discharged.
    G. Any expansion of the ranges, operations, munitions or activities not covered by the most current conditional approval or pre-existing status, shall result in a new conditional use approval being required.
    H. All outdoor firing range facilities shall maintain general liability insurance coverage in an amount of not less than One Million Dollars ($1,000,000.00) through an insurance company licensed to do business in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The policy shall not exclude coverage for property damage or personal injury caused by the discharge of firearms.
    I. Noise. NEED TO DETERMINE A WAY TO REGULATE THE EXTREMELY LOUD EXPLOSIONS OR AT LEAST PROVIDE NOTICE SO THAT THE TOWNSHIP AND RESIDENTS ARE AWARE.
    K. In addition to the applicable buffer and setback standards of the zoning district in which the firing range is located, a sixty (60) foot wide buffer, undisturbed except for fence installation and vegetative planting or existing growth, shall be provided around the entire perimeter of the subject property and shall also be delineated on the detailed site plan. This condition can be met by proof that the buffer being proposed is as safe or safer than what is required herein.
    L. All other applicable Federal, State and local regulations, shall be strictly adhered to, including proof of all applicable permits required.
    Last edited by WCMG; January 2nd, 2016 at 08:38 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Glenmoore, Pennsylvania
    (Chester County)
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    Default Re: Donegal Township tries to pass broad Firing Range Ordinance

    I live in a development with 1/4-1/2 acre lots. And I suspect (and understand) where my neighbors might be concerned with my .45 caliber Range Officer 'barking' in the back yard.

    I'm not familiar with Washington County, although parts of Chester County are fairly populous and I understand if the local Townships wanted to engage in discussions about land owner's desire to shoot on their properties... 100 acres does seem excessive though.

    The private gun club I belong to has 5 million in liability insurance, although if there was ever a death due to an accident we'd be shut down regardless.
    Last edited by JAKIII; January 2nd, 2016 at 08:48 PM.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
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    West Alexander, Pennsylvania
    (Washington County)
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    Default Re: Donegal Township tries to pass broad Firing Range Ordinance

    Quote Originally Posted by JAKIII View Post
    I live in a development with 1/4-1/2 acre lots. And I suspect (and understand) where my neighbors might be concerned with my .45 caliber Range Officer 'barking' in the back yard.

    I'm not familiar with Washington County, although parts of Chester County are fairly populous and I understand if the local Townships wanted to engage in discussions about land owner's desire to shoot on their properties.
    I agree, while "engage in discussions" is one thing, however rattling off an ordinance without public debate and then trying to pass it within minutes of reading it to the public for the first time goes way beyond normal procedure in my opinion. Do you agree with the 100 acre minimal lot size in the ordinance?

  4. #4
    Join Date
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    Glenmoore, Pennsylvania
    (Chester County)
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    Default Re: Donegal Township tries to pass broad Firing Range Ordinance

    Quote Originally Posted by WCMG View Post
    Do you agree with the 100 acre minimal lot size in the ordinance?
    No... post edited.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
    (Allegheny County)
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    Default Re: Donegal Township tries to pass broad Firing Range Ordinance

    You will need to keep bumping this thread because most people never look at the county subforums.

    Good luck to you and to anyone there who shoots on their own land.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
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    West Alexander, Pennsylvania
    (Washington County)
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    Default Re: Donegal Township tries to pass broad Firing Range Ordinance

    Quote Originally Posted by JAKIII View Post
    No... post edited.
    Sorry, I wasn't trying to put you on the spot (I'm just fired up tonight)... the 100 acre rule is obviously ridiculous. The issue I have with the insurance is they don't mandate it for any other businesses in town, just ours. Now we do carry a $1,000,000 / $2,000,000 policy with Lloyd's of London, but that's our choice and why should I be mandated to carry insurance while no other business has too, including the fireworks store in town. Public safety is one thing, but now with the 15 time shooting rule they are encroaching on private shooters while inadvertently not affecting us because we are grandfathered in by state law.

    My main point of this thread is to get the word out to any local people of Donegal Township that enjoys their 2nd amendment rights so they can come the township meeting and express their feelings about this very poorly written ordinance.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
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    South East of disorder
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    Default Re: Donegal Township tries to pass broad Firing Range Ordinance

    Op I hope you can change this for your sake. Hearing stuff like this makes me sick! I am glad that I live where I do not have to worry about such stupid laws.
    “Proclaim Liberty throughout all the Land unto all the Inhabitants thereof.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    West Alexander, Pennsylvania
    (Washington County)
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    Default Re: Donegal Township tries to pass broad Firing Range Ordinance

    We have contacted our attorney, Senator Camera Bartolotta, the Observer Reporter, NRA Business Alliance, and have started a social media call to arms to get the locals involved in this. What the local people of Donegal Township should be the most upset by is HOW they tried to pass this ordinance. A quick read at the township meeting then a quick vote, if you don't think Zoning is coming to Donegal Township, it's ALREADY arrived, just bits by bits instead of what they tried a few years ago.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Nov 2014
    Location
    Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
    (Allegheny County)
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    Default Re: Donegal Township tries to pass broad Firing Range Ordinance

    I am interested in your new range. Do you think any of these ordinances (or anything else they are planning) are going to affect the club's growth over time ?

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