Council to consider rifle ordinance

Published 8:23 pm Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Suffolk City Council will hear the public’s opinion on the city’s rifle regulations and on the city’s application for an enterprise zone during its Wednesday meeting.

The city is creating its own rifle regulations after the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries repealed its regulation governing rifle use in the city, anticipating that it would be replaced by local regulation.

At their last meeting, council members agreed to consider a draft ordinance at a September meeting, and later consider a more comprehensive ordinance for next year’s hunting season.

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The draft ordinance states rifles of any caliber for the hunting of bear and deer in the city will be prohibited except in the Great Dismal Swamp. It also will be unlawful to discharge a firearm or air gun of .177 caliber or larger in a densely populated area, within 100 yards of any structure used as a residence, business or storage facility without the permission of the owner; within 100 yards of any public street, except at a permitted firing range; or at or upon the property of another without permission.

The restrictions do not apply to law enforcement officers engaged in the performance of their duties, or in any situation in which the discharge of a weapon is necessary for the preservation or protection of human life or property. They also do not apply to the use of muzzle-loading rifles during prescribed open seasons in the city, but the use of such rifles is permitted only from a stand at least 10 feet above the ground.

In addition, the council will have a public hearing on the city’s application for an enterprise zone. The city’s current enterprise zone was designated in January 1990 for a life of 20 years. It is due to expire on Dec. 31 this year, but the city is eligible to reapply. Enterprise zones allow businesses within the zone to receive state and local incentives including job creation grants, tax credits and permit fee credits and waivers. Suffolk’s zone encompasses six square miles in the city.

Also at the meeting, the council members will hear a special presentation about the Taste of Suffolk street festival, which will incorporate a recognition of the city’s 35th anniversary.