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BY JEFF BRANSCOME
Spotsylvania County has scaled back its plan to allow residents to fire guns in subdivisions.
The county Board of Supervisors in May voted to consider an ordinance that would allow people to shoot on their property if they live on more than 1 acre.
But Supervisors Chairwoman Ann Heidig said residents had safety concerns with that proposal. So the board recently increased the proposed minimum lot size required to fire guns from more than 1 acre to more than 5 acres.
A public hearing is scheduled for Jan. 8.
"We had a lot of citizen input and many felt that 1 acre was too small," said Heidig. She said the gun ordinance was brought to the county's attention after a rural landowner accused a neighbor of shooting onto his property.
It's currently illegal to fire guns in subdivisions regardless of lot size, based on county code. But Heidig said that ordinance may not be enforceable because it doesn't define what a subdivision is.
The proposed ordinance says a subdivision is any housing development that has a plat on file with the Circuit Court. That wouldn't include a lot that has been subdivided by a property owner to sell or give to an immediate family member.
The proposal doesn't include pneumatic weapons--such as BB and paint ball guns--in its definition of a firearm. The county has another ordinance for those guns, which are not banned in subdivisions.
Supervisor David Ross said he doesn't expect people to oppose the proposal since the current code is more restrictive.
"We're lessening the restrictions overall by quite a bit," he said.
Spotsylvania has also added language to the proposed law that would allow owners of at least 50 parcels in a subdivision to petition the county for a shooting-prohibited area--even if some of the lots are more than 5 acres.
At least 55 percent of the owners--as well as owners of 55 percent of the acreage--would have to favor the shooting ban, and a public hearing would be required. Supervisors would have to determine that the proposed shooting-free area "is so heavily populated as to make the discharge of a firearm dangerous."
Jeff Branscome: 540/374-5402