The Georgetown County Planning Commission is looking into ways of banning outdoor shooting ranges on the Waccamaw Neck.
The idea was discussed at the commission’s monthly meeting last week after Planning Director Boyd Johnson said someone came to the county with a plan to build an outdoor range off Highway 17 near Hog Heaven restaurant.
Outdoor ranges are currently not included in any of the county’s zoning ordinances.
Commission member Glenda Shoulette, who represents Waccamaw Neck, said because of the density of housing on the Neck, it would be difficult to find a spot for a range that wasn’t near residences.
She also cited concerns over noise.
Johnson recommended the county place conditions on the ranges, including that they only be allowed in areas zoned “forest and agriculture” and that they be a half-mile from dwellings, churches, hospital, parks and schools.
Under those conditions, Johnson said only two places on Waccamaw Neck would qualify: a small area of Brookgreen Gardens and Arcadia, although a conservation easement would probably exclude Arcadia.
One problem that arose was that any restrictions placed on ranges would have to be county-wide, and everyone agreed that would not go over well in the western part of the county.
Commission Chairman Brian Henry jokingly suggested creating a “Non-Shooting Range Overlay Zone” for Waccamaw Neck.
Johnson said county staff would look into it, but it would not be their first choice in dealing with the issue.
The county is currently home to three outdoor ranges: Back Woods Quail Club, the Sheriff’s Office range behind the detention center, and the City of Georgetown’s range behind Georgetown High School.
Any new regulations related to outdoor ranges would only apply to commercial operations, not hunting clubs.
Johnson said he’d also like to see the county have rules making it mandatory that the design of any outdoor range be approved by an expert, but admitted he wasn’t sure who exactly would qualify as a design expert.
While researching outdoor ranges, Johnson told the commission he found a government-owned, taxpayer-funded public range in Broward County, Fla., that brings in a profit of more than $100,000 a year.
By Chris Sokoloski
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