Frederick family withdraws plans for shooting range near Sugarloaf Mountain

September 2, 2014

A Frederick County family has scuttled its controversial proposal to open a shooting range at the foot of Sugarloaf Mountain.

The Valois family, doing business as Old Line Arsenal, told the Frederick County Board of Zoning Adjustment at a hearing Tuesday evening that it was withdrawing its application to open the facility on a 15-acre site off Thurston Road.

The proposal drew heavy opposition from neighbors in a rural community where gun ownership is commonplace. It was also vigorously contested by the Sugarloaf Alliance, a watchdog group in the popular hiking and recreation area on the Frederick-Montgomery County border.

In e-mails Tuesday evening, Alison Valois said the majority of those opposed “were very good people and we understood their position.”

“Upon hearing them it resonated within us, causing us to have a moment of reflection and the best course of action was to withdraw our application,” she said.

But Valois also said the family has been subjected to “character attacks, protests and physical violence.” On Monday, she said, a weapon was fired “in the direction of our driveway while our children were swimming.” Valois said a report was filed with the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office.

The plan called for two outdoor shooting ranges and one indoor range, open to the public and also catering to law enforcement agencies. The proposal included a 30-foot tower for police sniper training, courses in gun use, gun safety and wilderness survival, and meditation and yoga therapy for veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress.

Old Line Arsenal promised state-of-the-art acoustic barriers and safety features. But opponents said that outdoor ranges that could accommodate 30 to 40 shooters would shatter the rural and agricultural character of the area.

Valois accused the Sugarloaf Alliance of distorting Old Line’s proposal and engaging in “fearmongering tactics.”

Wayne Edelen, a spokesman for the Sugarloaf Alliance, said the organization has “provided nothing but facts.”

Bill Turque, who covers Montgomery County government and politics, has spent more than thirty years as a reporter and editor for The Washington Post, Newsweek, the Dallas Times Herald and The Kansas City Star.
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