Monday, May 20, 2024

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Owners of shooting range fire back at neighbor’s complaints to commissioners

A resident’s public complaints about an area shooting range have drawn some return fire from the proprietors of this firearms training and practice facility in the northern part of the county.

Rudy Cartassi and David Simmons insist that the operations of Rad Range Training and Events Venue were completely mischaracterized by Darrell Russell, who voiced his objections last week during a regularly-scheduled meeting of Alamance County’s commissioners.

Russell, who approached the commissioners during a designated public comment period, asked the county’s governing board to impose tighter noise restrictions on the venue, whose alleged cacophony he likened to a “war zone” interspersed by occasional explosions of “dynamite.”

Russell, who lives over a mile from Rad’s grounds, didn’t actually name the venue he was criticizing in his remarks to the commissioners. Simmons nevertheless insists that he has no doubt the area resident was alluding to the facility that he and Cartassi operate off of Jim Barnwell Road – north of the municipal limits of Burlington.

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“Mr. Russell visited my gun range prior to going to this meeting,” Simmons recalled in an interview on Monday. “He was talking about things that didn’t make any sense. He said that we should require everybody who uses our range to shoot suppressed. . . I’ve also got letters that he sent to us saying he was going to go to the county commissioners.”

Cartassi, who in addition to being Simmons’ business partner is also a Republican candidate for the board of commissioners, acknowledged that he was initially quite skeptical about Russell’s concerns about the facility’s volume.

“I was completely blindsided by it,” he said in an interview. “We’re not shooting during the nighttime; it’s only open during the day.”

“I have tested the decibel levels in our street and at the end of [Darrell Russell’s] driveway, and the birds in his driveway were louder than the sound of the gunshots.”
– David Simmons, co-owner of Rad Range Training and Events Venue, in response to noise complaints that area resident Darrell Russell aired before Alamance County’s commissioners last week

Simmons added, for his part, that since Russell first voiced his complaints, he has actually gone out and measured the sound from the shooting range in Russell’s neighborhood.

“I have tested the decibel levels in our street and at the end of his driveway, and the birds in his driveway were louder than the sound of the gunshots,” the venue’s co-owner recalled, contrary to Russell’s assertions that the sound from the gun range was loud enough to rattle the dishes inside his home.

Both Simmons and Cartassi also dispute the likelihood that anything resembling a blast of dynamite would’ve ever emanated from their facility. Simmons stressed that he and his business partner run a perfectly normal outdoor shooting range that offers basic handgun and conceal-and-carry classes and has even hosted the sniper team from Burlington’s police department.

Simmons went on to argue that the activities at Rad aren’t much different from those at the Central Carolina Gun Club, which is roughly equidistant from Russell’s residence. He added, however, that as the less prominent of the two ranges, Rad has been a more temping target for neighborhood activists like Russell.

Cartassi, meanwhile, ascribes an even cynical motive to Rad’s opposition.

“I think what’s going on is that the property values [near Rad] are going up, and there’s somebody who’s hoping to develop it.” – Rad’s other co-owner Rudy Cartassi explaining his theory for what motivated Russell’s complaints

“I think what’s going on is that the property values [near Rad] are going up,” he insisted, “and there’s somebody who’s hoping to develop it.”

Although Simmons and Cartassi have owned Rad for less than a year, the pair point out that the site’s operation as a shooting range dates back to its previous ownership by the Powell family of Burlington.

Simmons said that he and his business partner even leased the land before they purchased it outright in order to ensure that the venue’s activities would continue without interruption. As a result, both Simmons and Cartassi insist that their business is legally exempt from local noise regulations under a “grandfather” privilege that has been enshrined in North Carolina’s state statutes since 1997.

In either case, Simmons said that he and his colleague will ultimately take their case before the board of commissioners when it convenes its next regularly scheduled meeting on Monday.

“Yes, we’re in the business to make money,” he added. “But we’re also interested in right and wrong –and we’re not doing anything wrong. So, we’re not going to let anybody push us around like that.”

Some neighbors have begun posting signs protesting the gun range, this one across from the Rad Range Training and Events Venue entrance.

Read coverage of the original comments from Darrell Russell at last week’s county commissioners meeting:

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