Forsyth shoots down skeet and trap idea

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FORSYTH COUNTY - The county bought its 225-acre Eagle’s Beak property along the Etowah River to construct a canoe and kayak launch, so there’s no way Commissioner Patrick Bell wants to use 185 acres of that property for a skeet and trap shoot facility proposed by a private business. With 20 acres already in use by the Georgia Model Aviators Association, there would be no room left for nature trails or other passive recreation as envisioned in the county’s Parks and Recreation Bond plans.

“What’s left for the citizens?” asked Commission Chairman Charles Laughinghouse at the board’s Sept. 14 work session.

The prospect of 100 people a day firing up to 10,000 gunshots didn’t sit well with Bell, several local landowners, or the 20 local residents who have e-mailed and called the commissioner. And the environmental threat of having lead shot so close to the Etowah River didn’t make them happy, either.

The Eagle’s Beak property is in District 4, Bell’s area, but Commissioner Jim Harrell brought the proposal to the board because he had been meeting with some of the people involved with the proposal and happened to show them the property.

Attorney George Butler introduced the partners in Etowah Sporting Clays of Dawson County, who need another location.

Dawson County has cleared a stand of trees that was the key acoustical barrier for the shooting range, and now there’s a lawsuit over the need for noise abatement.

“We happen to think that this will make an absolutely world-class shooting facility,” Butler said.

The proposal includes a “golf-course” style shooting facility, with shooters driving golf carts with gun racks from station to station. Each station would have traps that simulate different animals, such as rabbits, pigeons and game birds.

Richard Becker said he believes the sky’s the limit on participation at the range. But he couldn’t give Bell and the other commissioners good enough reasons on why a private group should be given the use of so much designated park land. He said he was asked to look at the property.

Bell said if there was no measurable benefit to the Forsyth County taxpayers, he can’t see using the property this way.

The proposal was rejected on a 3-2 vote.

Cumming Forsyth