KEYSTONE — Residents who fight to keep Keystone a quiet country place won a small victory last week against a trap shooting club they say has grown too successful — and noisy — for its surroundings.
The Hillsborough County Commission voted down a request by the owner of the Silver Dollar Shooters Club off Patterson Road to keep operating three trap-shoot stations it had added years ago against code regulations. Silver Dollar removed five skeet-shooting stands earlier that were also in violation of code regulations.
"They built more stands than were approved,'' said Ron Spiller, director of county code enforcement.
Land use lawyer Vincent "Vin'' Marchetti, who represents Equity LifeStyle Properties, declined to comment because of "applications pending'' in the matter, said an assistant in his office, indicating he will be seeking a rehearing on the matter.
As of Thursday, the county had not received any notice seeking a rehearing or court decision, said a spokeswoman.
"The board's decision all by itself should not have but a very minimal effect on the noise,'' said Barbara Aderhold, recording secretary of the Keystone Civic Association, an influential force in this northwest Hillsborough community.
Kim Paulson, a neighbor of the Silver Dollar, doesn't expect much relief either. She said that during the shooting events over the busy winter season she hears continuous shotgun blasts from 8:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. for days at a time.
"We can't have guests. We can't barbecue. We can't enjoy our lake,'' said Paulson, who lives on Garden Lake Circle. She has to go somewhere else — the beach, her mother's house in Inverness — to get a break from the noise, she said.
Silver Dollar agreed recently to restrict shooting from 9 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. for 120 consecutive days of the year and operate from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. for the rest of the year.
Meanwhile, Equity LifeStyle is planning to purchase 425 acres adjacent to the Silver Dollar from the City of Clearwater. Recent testing of the portion nearest Silver Dollar by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection showed high levels of lead, arsenic and antimony in the soil, apparently the result of spent ammunition.
Before Equity LifeStyle Properties acquired Silver Dollar, the trap-shooting venue was a small, family-owned business that had been in operation since the early 1980s. It produced "a smattering'' of gunfire that Paulson said neighbors could live with.
"It has become increasingly worse over the last three to five years. … The major events are a huge part of the problem. They are promoting it nationally as the premier shooting location in the southeast,'' said Paulson, who lives in the house her father built in the 1960s.
Deanna Corarito lives on the same street as Paulson, having moved there five years ago before the noise became oppressive, she said. Now, "we hear it inside the house with the windows and doors closed.''
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During an interview in April, she played a recording she made of the noise, a cacophony that sounded like a battle. "This was just a January day of one of their tournaments.''
She said that through most of March, one event ends and another begins, the biggest one lasting for eight days, with shotgun blasts going off every two or three seconds. "Eight days solid of that.''
She and Paulson say they aren't trying to close down Silver Dollar.
"Making money is okay,'' said Corarito. "But there has to be some compromise here and some compatibility.''
— Contact Philip Morgan at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 226-3435.