Mary Alsentzer: Williamsburg must confront shooting range safety

Last modified: Thursday, August 28, 2014
To the editor:

Although I live in North Carolina, I spend at least a couple of weeks each summer with my mother on Hyde Hill Road in Williamsburg.

On a recent Saturday my twin granddaughters came for a visit. As the weather looked threatening, we took the girls into the large barn on the property to play upstairs in the hay loft, which is used for family gatherings, since the farm is no longer in operation.

While we were playing there with the girls, shooting began on property across the road. Although no one had mentioned guns or shooting to the 2½-year-old twins, the noise echoing off the hills beyond terrified them, so they did not want to come out of the barn. Only after reassuring them that there was no danger and after the shooting stopped were they willing to go back to the house.

I share this because I think a local zoning ordinance which allows target practice in a residential area must be changed with no grandfathered exceptions. Hyde Hill is no longer primarily an agricultural area, as it was just a generation ago.

I served for four years on the city council in Greenville, North Carolina, now a city of about 85,000. Over the years Greenville made many changes in its zoning ordinances as it grew from a small town to a city.

I hope that Williamsburg will accept the fact that times have changed and take steps to protect the livability of residential areas for all concerned. It would be a shame if my granddaughters would no longer come to visit my mother, and yet they represent but a small example of the “tourist-action” providing revenue that the town of Williamsburg may lose in the future, because of gunfire in the neighborhood.

Home values and consequently property-tax revenues will all be negatively impacted, if nothing is done. Rezoning for safety and livability — without grandfather options — is imperative for the residents and coffers of Williamsburg.

Mary Alsentzer

Belhaven, N.C.