Plans for a shooting range in the East End have been met with opposition by residents who fear noise pollution, lead in the drinking water and an impact on house prices.
Burns Connolly, who is bringing the planning application on behalf of the Cayman sports shooting club, says residents have nothing to fear.
The shooting range is currently near the Owen Roberts International Airport but has to move to make way for the planned expansion of that facility. Government has agreed to lease land off High Rock Road in East End to the sports club at “peppercorn rent.”
The shooting range will be next door to a proposed “commercial auto race track facility.” The Cayman Hot Rod Association was granted approval for the track earlier this year.
The shooting range proposal will go back to the Planning Authority on Dec. 18, with officials seeking input from the Water Authority and the Department of Agriculture on the potential for the lead from ammunition to contaminate the drinking water.
Mr. Connolly expects the application to pass. He said the soil in Grand Cayman is alkaline rather than acidic, and there is no danger of lead dissolving into the soil and seeping into the water lens. In general, lead is much more soluble under acidic conditions than at neutral or alkaline conditions.
A handful of letters of complaint were filed with the Planning Authority, including statements from farmers in the area who expressed concerns about the effect on drinking water.
“It is our opinion that this proposal, if granted permission, will cause lead contamination to the water lens which we depend on to water our livestock and irrigate our crops. Lead will accumulate in our crops and animals and will eventually accumulate in humans who consume or produce the meat,” a joint letter from East End farmers stated.
Other writers raised objections based on noise pollution and perceived loss of property value.
Mr. Connolly said the noise would be no worse than at the current shooting range, which he said has existed next to the airport for several years without issue.
“The site for the range is right next to the quarry in the East End. It’s a long distance away from any homes. It will only operate in daylight, so there is no nighttime shooting. I don’t see any issue with noise or property values.”
The site will include an archery range, rifle range, facilities for skeet shooting, clay pigeon shooting and a pistol range that can be used by the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service for training purposes.
Mr. Connolly said there would be between 25 and 30 people using the range on any given Saturday.
The Cayman Islands Sports Shooting Association in its submission to the Planning Authority said the new facility would allow international class competitions to be hosted in Grand Cayman.