Community Viewpoint...

Trap and Skeet Range / Sixth District Court / Noise Violations

South Shore Press, December 12, 2012

In a recent decision by the Sixth District Court found the Suffolk County Trap and Skeet range guilty of violating Brookhaven Town's noise law. The licensee of the facility, Hunter Sports, expressed surprise at the verdict which is laughable when one considers the history of the events leading up to the reopening of the range.

For three years leading up to the reopening of the Suffolk County Trap and Skeet Range, many County and Town officials including the County's own attorney said that Brookhaven's noise law would prevent legal operation of that facility unless Brookhaven exempted the range from its noise law.  In 2002 the County Trap and Skeet Oversight Committee said: “…noise levels on the range were routinely found to be greater than 65dBA and were generally 70-90dBa when the range was in operation” clearly demonstrating that the range could not operate in compliance with Brookhaven’s noise law which is 65dBA.  In 2003 County attorney Paul Sabbatino told the Legislature: “whoever the vendor would be that would take over the operation of the facility would have to adhere to those Brookhaven restrictions, whatever they are."  In 2004 the Suffolk Parks Board of Trustees said: “It was determined that the facility is subject to the Town of Brookhaven’s noise ordinance.” and noted that County Executive (Steve Levy) had written to The Town supervisor asking for an exemption. The following month, (January 2005) then County Parks Commissioner Ron Foley reported that an RFP was being developed but was, “progressing on the premise that the Town of Brookhaven will grant the County an exemption to their noise ordinance.”  Finally, in a letter dated January 7, 2005 Brookhaven Supervisor John LaValle told Steve Levy “After several discussions with the Town Board, please be advised that the Town is not in favor of waiving our noise ordinance.”

But Levy and Hunter Sports ignored everyone.

Hunter Sports was well aware of the Town's position and despite their license agreement stipulating that they “shall comply with all Federal, State and local laws, rules, regulations, codes and ordinances”, they chose indifference over concern and in fact wrote the following in their RFP statement: "While we of course hope the County of Suffolk can wield its influence and convince the Town of Brookhaven to exempt the property from current noise control codes, we are prepared to proceed in any case.”  The County of course did no such thing and it’s laughable that anyone could possibly be surprised that a court has now found them to be in violation of that law.

Hunter Sports took a calculated risk and lost and that should be the end of it.  But apparently six years of judicial tap dancing, wasting Town and County resources and costing the taxpayers a small fortune isn’t enough for these people as we are now promised even more wasted time and more cost to the taxpayers while they shop for a judge who’ll listen to them whine about how unfair it is to have to abide by a law everyone knew about and everyone agreed was enforceable long before anyone signed on the dotted line.  Please stop pretending that there is something to be gained by prolonging this charade. The truth is that the Suffolk County Trap and Skeet Range should never have been reopened and no amount of legal maneuvering is going to change that simple fact.

John Palasek
South Yaphank Civic Association