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Southern Albemarle Residents Organize Against Police Gun Range

January 14, 2013

Dozens gathered Monday night at the Scottsville Rescue Squad to organize their plan to alert elected officials of their opposition to a planned police firing range in Keene.

About 70 people gathered with the common goal to "save rural Albemarle."

"Why bring us the traffic, the noise, the activity, the commercial activity? It just doesn't belong in a rural area," said Paula Beazley, a member of the Save Rural Albemarle campaign.

The residents fear the addition of a gun range for the Albemarle County Police Department at the old Keene landfill will uproot their quiet, rural lifestyle. They also fear the environmental effects could be damaging.

"One of the detriments to earthen berms is they do not prevent lead from getting into the environment," Beazley said.

Another concern is noise pollution. Residents say they expect nonstop, 4,000 shots per day.

"Nonstop -- that's not true," Albemarle police chief Steve Sellers said. "It won't be nonstop."

Sellers said there are studies that need to be done -- and that are in the works -- to determine the noise impact. But he says the environmental concerns are a non-issue.

"Those are all taken care of and well-managed by the environmental stewardship plan that we will impose upon this project," Sellers said.

The site's history leads opponents to believe otherwise.

"It's had excessive amounts of lead there in the past," Beazley said.

Beazley and the others plan to speak out at an upcoming board of supervisors meeting to express their concerns. County police will do the same.

"The entire population of Albemarle County is better protected if our officers here are better trained in the use of their firearms," Sellers said.

Even amid the controversy, Sellers said it's all part of the process.

"People need to get involved in this discussion, whether you're for the range or against the range," he said. "We all have a great opportunity in Albemarle County to voice our concerns."

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