Gun range neighbors take fire at facility’s noise
By David Lazenby
TRUSSVILLE —About a dozen city residents who live near an indoor firing range on Tuesday expressed their displeasure with noise coming from Sheepdog Firearms.
Susan Weber, a resident of a nearby neighborhood who sells real estate for Cahaba Real Estate, said blasts from the gun range located on Deerfoot Parkway has not only made life for her and other nearby residents intolerable, but has also made local homes unsellable.
“They’re not selling,” she said about houses ta The Crossing at Deerfoot, an upscale neighborhood near the indoor shooting range. “And for me … that’s my paycheck. It’s upsetting.”
Weber is not alone in her alarm. “I’m concerned about our home values,” said Eric Oare, a resident of The Crossing at Deerfoot. “If you’re standing there and you’re trying to sell your house and you hear gunshots as loud as they can be, I would not want to move in there.”
Weber said she tested the noise and found that the gunshots registered about 74-78 decibels. She said normal conversation usually is approximately 65 decibels loud.
“Imagine if you or I are just sitting here talking side by side and these gun noises are louder than our conversation,” she said.
Another neighbor, Joe Waite, pointed out this sound measurement may be much worse after the fall. “You’ve got to remember that’s with all the trees and leaves on there. Can you imagine what’s it’s going to be like when all the leaves fall off and there’s a clear path?”
Charles Kessler, a real estate developer and broker in the neighborhood who had his attorney present with him Tuesday, backed up Weber’s words. Kessler said he expects there to be $60 million in homes in the neighborhood by the time its development is completed.
“Our sales have stopped. We know we lost one contract. I’ve got two builders … and they’re refusing to buy them because of the noise. It is that bad,” he said.
Others at the meeting said the noise makes it difficult to enjoy being outside. Some said they can also hear the gunfire from inside their homes, including Jamie Stennis who said her home is as far away from the shooting range as anyone else in the neighborhood. “I’m a good distance from it and it can still be heard,” she said.
A handful said the racket has also had a negative affect on their dogs’ behavior.
Councilors said they agree with the dissenting neighbors opinion that the noise can not stand.
Mayor Buddy Choat said he has been working for several weeks with owners of the business that opened in May in order to come up with a workable solution.
“We as a city have been trying to allow them to work this out,” Choat said at Tuesday’s meeting.
He also cited city council minutes from April 14, 2015 when plans for the indoor shooting range were discussed. Choat said the minutes state “We were assured it would be soundproof.”
Michael Lombardo, one of the owners of Sheepdog Firearms, told council members after the meeting that he and his partners are committed to solving the problem with the noise.
“We are adamantly working on figuring this problem out,” Lombardo said. “We want everyone to be happy with us.”
However, a few Crossing at Deerfoot residents said they got a different response when they spoke to one of the indoor shooting range owners, whom they did not name.
Brooke Cremers, a neighborhood resident, and Weber said that when they complained to a Sheepdog Firearms owner, they were told their expectations regarding noise from the facility was unreasonable.
Choat said engineers have come out to the facility and given estimates for fixing the problem, one of which he said would cost about $100,000.