AN ACT RELATING TO SPORT SHOOTING RANGES
It is hereby enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Vermont:
Sec. 1. 10 V.S.A. § 5227 is amended to read:
§ 5227. SPORT SHOOTING RANGES; MUNICIPAL AND STATE
(a) “Sport shooting range” or “range” means an area designed and operated for the use of archery, rifles, shotguns, pistols, skeet, trap, black powder, or any other similar sport shooting.
(b) The owner or operator of a sport shooting range, and a person lawfully using the range, who is in substantial compliance with any noise use condition of any issued municipal or state land use permit otherwise required by law shall not be subject to any civil liability for damages or any injunctive relief resulting from noise or noise pollution, notwithstanding any provision of law to the contrary.
(c) If no municipal or state land use permit is otherwise required by law, then the owner or operator of the range and any person lawfully using the range shall not be subject to any civil liability for damages or any injunctive relief relating to noise or noise pollution.
(d) Nothing in this section shall prohibit or limit the authority of a municipality or the state to enforce any condition of a lawfully issued and otherwise required permit.
(e)(1) In the event that the owner, operator, or user of a range is not afforded the protection set forth in subsection (b) or (c) of this section, this subsection shall apply. A nuisance claim against a range may only be brought by an owner of property abutting the range. The range shall have a rebuttable presumption that the range does not constitute any form of nuisance if the range meets the following conditions:
(A) the range was established prior to the acquisition of the property owned by the person bringing the nuisance claim; and
(B) the frequency of the shooting or other alleged nuisance activity at the range has not significantly increased since acquisition of the property owned by the person bringing the nuisance claim.
(2) The presumption that the range does not constitute a nuisance may be rebutted only by an abutting property owner showing that the activity has a noxious and significant interference with the use and enjoyment of the abutting property.
(f) Prior to use of a sport shooting range after dark for purposes of training conducted by a federal, state, county, or municipal law enforcement agency, the sport shooting range shall notify those homeowners and businesses with property abutting the range that have requested such notice from the range.
(g) If any subsection of this section is held invalid, the invalidity does not affect the other subsections of this section that can be given effect without the invalid subsection, and for this purpose, the subsections of this section are severable.
Sec. 2. 10 V.S.A. § 5227a is added to read:
§ 5227a. SPORT SHOOTING RANGE ALTERNATIVE DISPUTE
Upon request of a homeowner or business that owns property abutting a sport shooting range, a range shall, at least once, attempt to resolve through mediation an issue or dispute that the homeowner or business has concerning operation of the range. The parties to such mediation may agree upon the use of a mediator to assist in the resolution of the agreed upon issue or dispute, and the parties shall share the cost of the mediator. If the parties to the mediation are unable to resolve the relevant issue or dispute through mediation, the parties may agree to submit the issue or dispute to binding arbitration pursuant to chapter 192 of Title 12 and shall share the cost of the arbitration.
Sec. 3. 24 V.S.A. § 2291 is amended to read:
§ 2291. ENUMERATION OF POWERS
For the purpose of promoting the public health, safety, welfare and convenience, a town, city or incorporated village shall have the following powers:
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(8) To regulate or prohibit the use or discharge, but not possession of, firearms within the municipality or specified portions thereof, provided that an ordinance adopted under this subdivision shall be consistent with section 2295 of this title and shall not prohibit, reduce, or limit discharge at any existing sport shooting range, as that term is defined in section 5227 of Title 10.
Sec. 4. EFFECTIVE DATE
This act shall take effect upon passage.
The Vermont General Assembly
115 State Street