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The Granby, MA Zoning Decision, Allowing the Club to Continue Operations

Keith G. Langer May 24, 2022

The condensed, Lawyers Weekly version:

Zoning – Rifle range – Nonconforming use

Land Court

By: Mass. Lawyers Weekly Staff May 23, 2022

Where the Granby Board of Appeals has upheld the town zoning enforcement officer's order requiring a plaintiff club to cease and desist from using 500- and 1,000-yard targets at its rifle range, the board's decision must be annulled because the club's use of the rifle range, including the 500- and 1,000-yard target areas, does not constitute a change or substantial extension of the lawful prior nonconforming use of the club's property.

'The sole issue remaining to be decided is whether the present use of the [plaintiff Granby Bow & Gun] Club's property, and in particular, the use of the 500-yard and 1,000-yard targets on its rifle range, constitutes a change in the lawful nonconforming use of the Club's property, which would require a finding pursuant to G.L.c. 40A, §6 and an approval under the corresponding special permit provision of the Granby Zoning Bylaw (the ‘Bylaw'). …'

'Based on the foregoing, I find that the Club's use of the property (1) reflects the nature and purpose of the use that was prevailing when the Bylaw took effect in 1974, (2) with no difference in the quality, character, or degree of use of the property, and (3) with no difference in kind in its effect on the neighborhood. Accordingly, I find that the Club's use of its property, including, without limitation, its use of the rifle range with 500- and 1,000-yard target areas, retains its status as a preexisting, lawful nonconforming use that may be continued without the need for a special permit under G.L.c. 40A, §6, or Bylaw §6.29.'”

Granby Bow & Gun Club, Inc. v. Town of Granby, et al. (Lawyers Weekly No. 14-032-22) (18 pages) (Speicher, J.) (Hampshire Land Court) (Docket Nos. 18 MISC 000029 and 20 MISC 000145) (May 18, 2022).