Crowd angry as Coventry Zoning Board postpones hearing on gun range proposal

A gun range has been proposed for a plot of land in Coventry. (WJAR)

The Coventry Zoning Board postponed a public hearing for a controversial gun range proposal Wednesday night because too many people showed up.

People filled the doorways and lined the back of the room at the Town Hall Annex Auditorium on Flat River Road, with the fire department forcing people out because they were at maximum capacity.

Many people were upset that the hearing was called off at the last minute.

“They should've planned ahead to have ample space to do this and the fact that they're bumping this over is absolutely ridiculous,” Christopher Hallstrom, who attended the meeting, told NBC 10 News.

The crowd of people was ready to fight back against the proposed gun range as the Zoning Board was expected to vote on it.

“Anytime there's a topic going before any type of committee board, etcetera, they do everything in their power to bump it off the schedule, post pone it, find a way to kick it down the line,” Hallstrom said.

Proline Firearms in Warwick, wants to turn an empty land off Town Farm Road into an 800-yard long gun range. The applicant said the range would be state of the art with the best safety practices, so people shouldn't worry.

But the Coventry School Committee said the gun range is too close to Washington Oak Elementary School.

“We have special needs children at Washington Oak with autism. Those children have difficulties with loud sounds and across the town,” Coventry School Committee President Katherine Patneaude told NBC 10. “You just don't know who is living in any house.”

Members with Proline Firearms said the proposed range is one-and-a-half-miles away from the school. He said shots were barely heard at the school during a recent sound sampling, adding that the range would also follow FBI and NRA standards.

But School Committee members said it's too much of a risk and previously voted unanimously to oppose the application.

“If something could happen, we would never be able to forgive ourselves for saying that it was OK to have this application go forward,” Patneaude said.

Yet, Patneaude, as well as many others, will have to wait to share their concerns at a public forum.

A new public hearing is set for January 10 at a larger venue.

“We're going to continue to fight,” said Catherine Mulcahey, who attended the meeting. “That's all we can do.”

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