Hunting limit in Surry

Published 5:35 pm Tuesday, May 14, 2019

One subdivision made off-limits to shooting

By Frederic Lee

Staff writer

SURRY—Close calls with stray bullets were the impetus behind a hunting restriction ordinance that was unanimously approved by the Surry County Board of Supervisors on Thursday.

The ordinance bans hunting in the 204-acre, Surry Landing on the James subdivision located on the James River in the county’s Guilford District. 

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“I’m one of the big pushers of this, and I support it 100 percent, simply because I’ve been shot at twice since I’ve lived here, accident or otherwise,” said Earnest Milburn during the public hearing for the ordinance. {mprestriction ids=”1,2,3,4,5,6″}

Milburn, who is president of the subdivision’s Homeowners Association, said, “It’s a very unsafe condition,” adding that “my wife was in the backyard when they shot across one time. I was in the side yard and actually heard the projectile go past.” He added that he doesn’t like being outside on his property during hunting season. 

Milburn said that the original, 130-acre Surry Landing on the James subdivision had deeded restrictions and covenants that were not adhered to after the original property developer sold the land, and that he’s been working on this problem for several years with other subdivision residents.

The ordinance states, “No person shall hunt with firearms or other weapons in the Surry Landing on the James subdivision, including future and developed lots,” and “appropriate signs shall be erected designating the boundaries of that area.”

Bacon’s Castle District Supervisor Judy S. Lyttle said during the April 4 public hearing for the ordinance that it should include the original acreage and boundary lines of the Surry Landing on the James subdivision, which a prior draft of the current ordinance had not specified. 

In reply, Milburn said “if that goes forward and is approved, that’s all we want.”

At the public hearing, Surry District Supervisor John Seward moved to amend a draft of the ordinance to make it less restrictive but to still include the subdivision, and later on, the board decided to table a vote on it until its May 2 meeting in order to fine tune its restrictions. 

Lyttle, in favor of the subdivision’s hunting restriction, raised the concern of other communities in the county that are experiencing the same problem. Powell said during the public hearing that there were no other subdivisions in the county with hunting and firearm restrictions, but that that doesn’t prohibit those communities from a future restrictive ordinance.   

“I’m quite sure there will be other subdivisions that will follow suit on this,” said Carsley District Supervisor Kenneth R. Holmes, adding that he’s faced issues with loud booming and shooting noises near his property, which he said is surrounded by woods, and that it was common in Surry County. 

Another Surry County resident, David Lloyd, spoke in favor of the restriction at the public hearing, but expressed his belief that ”the issue here is not residents of that neighborhood hunting.” He added that the problem was hunters and gunfire coming into the subdivision from the outside, and that the Board of Supervisors should take that into consideration.   

According to the ordinance, Virginia state code allows governing bodies to prohibit hunting and outdoor shooting in certain areas that, in the opinion of the governing body, are so heavily populated that such conduct is dangerous to residents. 

Isle of Wight County’s ordinance pertaining to guns near residential areas states that it is unlawful to shoot within 1,000 feet of a platted subdivision, which is defined as a subdivision of more than five lots platted at the same time.  {/mprestriction}