Gov. Bob McDonnell has directed his secretary of public safety and the superintendent of Virginia State Police to look at all options regarding a controversial shooting range and training facility proposed for Powhatan County.

The planned state police range has drawn intense opposition from residents and county leaders, and yesterday, the FBI confirmed that it is pulling out of the project. The federal agency was to contribute the bulk of the funding.

“It’s just not a feasible option for us to pursue at this time,” said Dee Rybiski, a spokeswoman for the FBI’s Richmond division, declining to elaborate.

Asked about the project on his monthly radio show on WRVA (1140 AM) yesterday morning, McDonnell said: “We’re obviously very sensitive to what local governments and to what the citizens think when we locate a public state facility in their region. So we’ve heard their voice and we’re looking at all the options and hopefully we’ll have a good resolution soon.”

The training facility, which is under review by the Department of Environmental Quality, was planned to serve state police, FBI, the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries and the Department of Corrections.

A state police spokeswoman said yesterday that “we’re still exploring our options.”

On Wednesday, a 60-page report prepared by attorney Brian L. Buniva on behalf of Old River Trail residents was submitted to the DEQ.

The report calls into question the safety of the planned range and dismisses as insufficient a sound study conducted by state police.

According to an engineering study that is part of Buniva’s report, there are nearly 800 homes within a 3-mile radius of the range in Powhatan and Goochland counties. That’s less than the distance a sniper rifle bullet is capable of traveling. An additional 200 homes have been approved but not yet built within 2 miles of the range.

The study also says that a shooter error of just 0.3 percent in elevation could result in overshooting the berm designed to stop the bullets.

Source: Olympia Meola and Wesley P. Hester for the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

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