Hunters soon could be allowed to hunt quail, chukar and pheasant at a private shooting preserve in Albemarle County.
A manager of about 465 acres of property, dubbed Horseshoe Farm Shooting Preserve, between Earlysville and Free Union has applied to the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources for a private shooting preserve permit.
Because the shooting preserve is private and not commercial, the owners do not have to notify adjoining landowners.
But some neighbors and community members are concerned about noise, safety and water quality issues related to the project.
While walking along Bleak House Road, Gary Grant, who lives down the street, said he noticed new signs along the property in late January that say “Licensed Shooting Preserve — No Trespassing.”
Grant said he’s working to collect more information about the preserve, and has some questions and concerns, including about how much gun noise it will create.
“The other worry that I have is how close can they shoot to Bleak House Road?” he said. “I’ve lived here for 34 years, my wife and I raised our two kids here, and there’s a lot of people that walk, bike and jog on the gravel portion of Bleak House Road … and could some errant bullets or shotgun shells reach the road where cars are driving, bikes are riding and people are walking or jogging?”
According to the state, new applications are required to provide a map of the shooting preserve area showing the boundaries and acreage of the preserve. It’s unclear if a map was submitted with the Horseshoe application, as it was not included with information received from DWR by The Daily Progress.
As of this past week, the state said the application had not yet been approved.
The property is owned by Horseshoe CV LLC, and the application was submitted by Peter Goodwin, who was listed as the manager of the property. An initial application was submitted in June, but it was incomplete, and a second application was submitted earlier this month.
“We are simply establishing a private preserve and have no further comment,” said Jenny Germroth, whose email address was listed on the application.
According to DWR, there are eight licensed private shooting preserves in Albemarle.
The state requires shooting preserves to have a minimum of 100 acres, place signs designating the area as a “Licensed Shooting Preserve” along all boundaries and require all people hunting, or assisting in hunting, on the property to have a state hunting license.
Private shooting preserves are different from public or commercial preserves in that they are open to invited guests only. Private preserves are also not required to notify adjoining landowners of the proposed use or obtain approval from the local government assuming “such activity is permitted under existing ordinances.”
Supervisor Ann H. Mallek said she’s concerned about water quality in the area, as the preserve property is near a creek that leads into one of the area’s reservoirs.
“This is in the direct shot to Buck Mountain Creek and, therefore, a direct shot to South Fork Reservoir,” she said. “It’s not very far, believe it or not, from the upper reaches of the reservoir. That is a concern for which I have no answer yet.”
According to Albemarle staff and the county code, there are no specific ordinances around shooting preserves in Albemarle, but property owners would have to still comply with other general ordinances.
Earlier this month, the property owners were issued a notice of violation/stop work order by the county’s engineering department for land-disturbing activity.