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Citing 'Unacceptable Noise,' Neighbors of New Woodstock Gun Range File Lawsuit

Photo shows downtown Woodstock
Ken Gallager/Creative Commons

A group of more than 30 residents of Woodstock have joined together to sue a new gun range, alleging that it’s a public nuisance and potential safety hazard. 

The civil lawsuit filed in Grafton County Superior Court alleges that sound from the Gold Bess Shooting Club, which formally opened Oct. 31, is “unacceptable and completely destroys each plaintiffs’ quiet enjoyment of their respective properties.”

According to court paperwork, the closest residents, Constance and Edward Martell, live within 500 feet of the range. The suit alleges the sound from the gun range, which is located in a former gravel pit, is devaluing nearby properties.

[Click here to read the lawsuit]

Christopher Caulder, the shooting club’s owner, hasn’t yet responded to the legal filing. 

A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Jan. 6.

The shooting range is located a little over a mile from Woodstock’s downtown on Route 3, which sits in a valley along the Pemigewasset River.

Concerned neighbors, including some gun owners, made their opposition clear to the town’s Board of Selectmen in the weeks leading up to the range’s opening. The town, however, doesn’t have a noise ordinance on its books to enforce. A series of state laws passed in 2004 appear to shield established gun ranges from nuisance-related suits.

Along with concerns about noise, the lawsuit alleges the range has no natural or man-made barriers to prevent an errant bullet from leaving the property. 

“Each gunshot is a reminder of that risk,” reads the suit.

Caulder has said he plans to erect barriers to limit noise.

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Todd started as a news correspondent with NHPR in 2009. He spent nearly a decade in the non-profit world, working with international development agencies and anti-poverty groups. He holds a master’s degree in public administration from Columbia University.

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