Rochester man seeks permit for firearms and tactical training area

Jul 25, 2019

ROCHESTER — Steven Morrell, of Fox Den Solutions, appeared before the Rochester Zoning Board of Appeals for a special permit to create a range backstop and place a Conex storage container on his property for firearms and tactical training Thursday, July 25.

Fox Den Solutions provides training for law enforcement, military personnel and the general public. Morrell has been using the property to provide these services intermittently, and would like to do so on a more regular basis. He said that no more than 20 customers would be on the site at a given time, and that firearms would not be stored on the property. 

Morrell’s qualifications include service in the Marine Corps, Wareham Police Department, and the United States Department of Homeland Security. He has also served as an adjunct instructor for Sig Sauer Academy, a New Hampshire firearms academy.

His 2.3 acre property is located at 0 County Road in Rochester. It is surrounded by wetlands and an agricultural pond to the north and east, wetlands and an abandoned cranberry bog to the south, and an active cranberry bog to the west. The nearest building is occupied by Costello Dismantling at 45 Kings Highway, and is about a third of a mile to the east. 

The property was previously used as an open sand pit for nearby cranberry bogs, and Morrell currently uses a sloped backstop made from what he described as the “remnants of a hill.” He said that the improved backstop would be squared off at a uniform height of about 20 feet. In addition to target practice, he also offers tactical training that focuses on dealing with mental stress associated with live shooting situations.

Morrell said that his use of the property for firearms and tactical training would be “part-time at best,” as he is still an employee of the federal government.

Brian Grady of G.A.F Engineering represented Morrell at the July 25 public hearing, and wrote a letter to the Zoning Board of Appeals on his behalf. In the letter, Grady wrote that due to Morrell’s training, and the remoteness of the property, Morrell’s operations would not be a detriment to the town, but would “provide a valuable service to law enforcement personnel, as well as the general public.”

The Zoning Board of Appeals decided to continue the public hearing to a meeting on Thursday, Aug. 8. Board member Kirby Gilmore said that he wanted the Rochester Chief of Police to be present for the upcoming meeting to offer their opinion on Morrell’s application.