ELIZABETHTOWN — The Bladen County Planning Board approved a special use permit for a firing range Tuesday by a 5-3 vote. The range will be located in the Carver’s Creek area.
The property is on about 180 acres of land that is owned by retired Gen. David L. Grange of Wilmington. According to the special use permit application, Grange wrote that he purchased the property for farming, but a pistol/rifle range is being built “on a portion of the property for weapons testing and zeroing in, and training of select personnel.”
Bladen County Planning Director Greg Elkins said the matter does not have to go before the Bladen County Board of Commissioners because it involves a special use permit.
“With a special use permit, the Planning Board has the authority to make the decision,” said Elkins.
In a letter written to the Planning Board, Grange is listed as owner of Elwell Ferry Plantation and president of Osprey Global Solution, LLC. The letter states that plans are to use the property for “selective pistol and rifle firing following ALL military/police safety requirements and environmental considerations. Use of the range will be once a week, on average, and activities will mostly be testing and zeroing weapons, as well as select training of small groups.”
Grange addressed the Planning Board and about 25 county residents on Tuesday. According to reports, he explained that the firing range will not operate on Sundays, there would be no use of chemical weapons, small groups will be allowed to use the range such as military, youth, and law enforcement and no weapons or ammunition will be stored at the site.
The property in question was once used as a turf farm, but Grange told the audience that the grass had been killed and he is farming soybeans on about 70 percent of the land.
He also described his future plans to build housing and live on the property with his family and his father.
Several residents expressed their concerns regarding noise and property values, as well as the well being of livestock such as horses that are housed nearby.
With the approval of the special use permit, the project can now move forward.