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Thread: Shooting range dilemma

  1. #1

    Shooting range dilemma

    Please help. I am a new home owner in Georgia & a commercial shooting range just opened across the street from my house (which I share with a husband & our 2 yr. old). The neighbors of our community have been protesting this range since we found out they were opening (which was unannounced publicly). The problem we have is the property they are operating on is zoned for that type of use. But it was zoned that way 10 yrs ago & since then the area has become greatly residential with >200 houses located just on the outer perimeter of the range. We have asked our commissioners repeatedly for help with the noise pollution factor surrounding the range, but they are telling us "our hands are tied" & they "cannot ammend the current zoning". However, in a commissioner meeting I attended last evening, there was a situation brought up where another zoning ordinance was ammended limiting the use of a religious campground. Can someone please offer some help with my problem, I love my house & do not want to move, but the noise is unfair & I believe I have a constitutional right to my peace & quite. After all, I moved to a rural part of the county in order to escape the noise pollution of the city. Thank you to anyone that can offer suggestions/assistance.

  2. #2
         
    Registered
    Apr 1997
    Location
    In a Van Down By the River
    Posts
    107

    Shooting Range Dilemma

    I can't tell you a whole lot without knowing the details of zoning in your area, but there are a couple of issues you may want to look into.

    1) I would assume a shooting range would be a "conditional use" or "special use" in the zone district across the street - especially with so many residential properties nearby. There should be a process established where the applicant (gun range operator) requests a special/conditional use permit from your town/county to allow for this business. Typically an appointed board will review the application at a public hearing and look at impacts to adjacent properties. Has this occured?

    2) If there truly was not any public notice for this application, there may have been a public notice/due process violation. Most town/county ordinances require a notification to adjacent property owners a minimum of 15 days in advance of a public hearing. Find out if this occured and if you were overlooked as an adjacent property owner.

    Most ordinances also have an appeal period after an action has been taken. Find out if you still have the opportunity to appeal a decision by the town/county commissioners or appointed board. Also. many states have land use process requirements built into their statutes or administrative code - there may have been an infraction or violation of a Georgia statute. Unfortunately, this may require the help of an attorney.

    I hope this helps.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Plus Zoning Goddess's avatar
    Registered
    Sep 1999
    Location
    400 miles from Orlando
    Posts
    13,747

    Shooting Range Dilemma

    Although I agree with Brent that there should likely have been some level of public hearing for a shooting range (altho' perhaps before the homes existed), I also think that urban/rural issues are a factor here. Many of the more obnoxious land uses are commonplace and historically accepted in rural areas: borrow pits, pig farms, etc. Many of these are agricultural in nature, but some like shooting ranges are not. Moving into a rural area does not by any means ensure an escape from noise pollution, or visual pollution, or noxious odors. If the adjacent property was zoned for a shooting range 10 years ago, the County erred in permitting 200 homes next door. In this case, the homes are the intruders.

    : Please help. I am a new home owner in Georgia & a commercial shooting range just opened across the street from my house (which I share with a husband & our 2 yr. old). The neighbors of our community have been protesting this range since we found out they were opening (which was unannounced publicly). The problem we have is the property they are operating on is zoned for that type of use. But it was zoned that way 10 yrs ago & since then the area has become greatly residential with >200 houses located just on the outer perimeter of the range. We have asked our commissioners repeatedly for help with the noise pollution factor surrounding the range, but they are telling us "our hands are tied" & they "cannot ammend the current zoning". However, in a commissioner meeting I attended last evening, there was a situation brought up where another zoning ordinance was ammended limiting the use of a religious campground. Can someone please offer some help with my problem, I love my house & do not want to move, but the noise is unfair & I believe I have a constitutional right to my peace & quite. After all, I moved to a rural part of the county in order to escape the noise pollution of the city. Thank you to anyone that can offer suggestions/assistance.

  4. #4
         
    Registered
    Feb 2002
    Location
    BC, Canada
    Posts
    33

    Shooting Range Dilemma

    Based solely on the details you posted. I think you might just be stuck with it. Assuming that it was zoned and that it is legally operating under the current zoning it wouldn't matter if the council now changed the rules. The use would be legally nonconforming to the new rules (ie: it was operating in accordance with the rules when it was established.) This would depend on your states definition and history of legal nonconformity.

    The previous writter is correct. The council set up the problem by allowing homes so close to a property that permitted a gun range. But, in a nut shell, it looks like you might be stuck with it.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
    Registered
    Aug 2001
    Location
    The Cheese State
    Posts
    9,920

    Shooting Range Dilemma

    Even assuming that the shooting range went through all of the necessary procedures to establish itself as a use on this site, you may still have some options.

    First, determine if your community has a noise ordinance and then (you may need to get your own consultant) determine if the use is in violation of the ordinance. No ordinance? Pass one. Either way, it sounds like you may need to force the local government to enforce it and may need an attorney.

    Second, is it possible to make a case for safety? There are standards which should be followed in designing a shooting range. If you can't find others, check out those used by the military. Does the layout of the range violate these established standards? If so, (you may want to enlist the support of your local police and fire departments) work that angle to get your government to require the shooting range owner to make changes to his design to eliminate those hazards, or close down. This may mean he has to invest in earthwork, buy properties, etc. Hopefully it will all be too expensive and he will go away.

    Third, keep up the pressure. Continue to go to public meetings. Put up signs. Circulate a petition. Work the press. Document incidents -- noise, safety, niusances, etc. -- and call the range owner to complain about them. Report ordinance violations and make sure there police respond. Don't let up. Keep the issue in front of the owner, appointed officials, and especially the elected ones.

    Lastly, if all else fails, go for compromises. Perhaps hours can be reduced. Maybe sound barriers can be installed. Take whatever improvements you can get.

  6. #6

    Shooting Range Dilemma

    I live next to a range it was there when I moved in. I hear the shooting all day untill 10:00 pm It's not that bad infact I think it's a rather sweet sound, The sound of someone exercising there 2'nd amendment right, give it a chance. Remember the constitution gives him/her rights to the right to own and operate a business. Why do we always quote the constitution for our rights and trample on someoneelses? You said the land was zoned for that use when you moved in so the chance that a range would go in was there, maybe you should have looked somewhere else Check out zoning before you move in.

  7. #7

    Shooting Range Dilemma

    Georgia's Range Protection Law

    41-1-9 G*** CODE SECTION *** 09/12/0041-1-9.(a) As used in this Code section, the term1) "Person" means an individual, proprietorship,
    partnership,corporation, or unincorporated association.(2) "Sport shooting range" or "range" means an area designated and operated by a person for the sport
    shooting of firearms and not available for such use by the general public without payment of a fee, membership contribution, or dues or by invitation of anauthorized
    person, or any area so designated and operated by a unit of government, regardless of the terms of admission thereto.(3) "Unit of government" means any of the
    departments, agencies,authorities, or political subdivisions of the state, cities, municipal corporations, townships, or villages and any of their respective departments,
    agencies, or authorities.(B) No sport shooting range shall be or shall become a nuisance, either public or private, solely as a result of changed conditions in or around
    the locality of such range if the range has been inoperation for one year since the date on which it commenced operation as a sport shooting range. Subsequent
    physical expansion of the range or expansion of the types of firearms in use at the range shall not establish a new date of commencement of operations for purposes
    of this Code section.© No sport shooting range or unit of government or person owning, operating, or using a sport shooting range for the sport shooting of firearms
    shall be subject to any action for civil or criminal liability, damages, abatement, or injunctive relief resulting from or relating to noise generated by the operation of the
    range if the range remains in compliance with noise control or nuisance abatement rules, regulations, statutes, or ordinances applicable to the rangeon the date on
    which it commenced operation.(d) No rules, regulations, statutes, or ordinances relating to noise control, noise pollution, or noise abatement adopted or enacted by a
    unit of government shall be applied retroactively to prohibit conduct at a sport shooting range, which conduct was lawful and being engaged in prior to the adoption
    or enactment of such rules, regulations, statutes, or ordinances.

    I think your stuck with it!
    Protect our 2nd Amendment!!!

  8. #8
    Member Rionagh's avatar
    Registered
    Aug 2003
    Location
    Grand Rapids, MI
    Posts
    12

    Shooting Range Dilemma

    Over the past two years the citizens of East Milford,Ohio have been trying to find some compromise or elimination of a existing shooting range that has been making alot of noise since 1937. A Grandfather Clause exists here and we are trying to find a way to get rid of it considering the shooting range is in the Village of Indian Hill, which borders Miami Township, Symmes Township and Clermont County (Milford) is across the river from it. This area of Milford is continuing to grow with upscale condos and I think it's going to be interesting when the new developer of a condo development starts losing his business due to this "noise Nuisance". By the way, the legal definition to Nuisance "anything that annoys or disturbs unreasonably, hurts a person's use of his or her property. If a nuisance interferes with another person's quiet or peaceful or pleasant use of his/her property, itmay be the basis for a lawsuit for damages an/or injunction ordering the person or entity causing the nuisance to desist (stop)."

    I would recommend researching petitioning on the grounds of nuisance.

    Good Luck!

  9. #9

    Shooting Range Dilemma

    Please refer to the following quote from Georgia statues, particularly paragraphs (B) thru (d):

    41-1-9 G*** CODE SECTION *** 09/12/0041-1-9.
    (a) As used in this Code section, the term:
    (1) "Person" means an individual, proprietorship, partnership, corporation, or unincorporated association.
    (2) "Sport shooting range" or "range" means an area designated and operated by a person for the sport shooting of firearms and not available for such use by the general public without payment of a fee, membership contribution, or dues or by invitation of anauthorized person, or any area so designated and operated by a unit of government, regardless of the terms of admission thereto.
    (3) "Unit of government" means any of the departments, agencies,authorities, or political subdivisions of the state, cities, municipal corporations, townships, or villages and any of their respective departments, agencies, or authorities.

    (B) No sport shooting range shall be or shall become a nuisance, either public or private, solely as a result of changed conditions in or around the locality of such range if the range has been inoperation for one year since the date on which it commenced operation as a sport shooting range. Subsequent physical expansion of the range or expansion of the types of firearms in use at the range shall not establish a new date of commencement of operations for purposes of this Code section.

    © No sport shooting range or unit of government or person owning, operating, or using a sport shooting range for the sport shooting of firearms shall be subject to any action for civil or criminal liability, damages, abatement, or injunctive relief resulting from or relating to noise generated by the operation of the range if the range remains in compliance with noise control or nuisance abatement rules, regulations, statutes, or ordinances applicable to the rangeon the date on which it commenced operation.

    (d) No rules, regulations, statutes, or ordinances relating to noise control, noise pollution, or noise abatement adopted or enacted by a unit of government shall be applied retroactively to prohibit conduct at a sport shooting range, which conduct was lawful and being engaged in prior to the adoption or enactment of such rules, regulations, statutes, or ordinances.

    I won't insult your intelligence by telling you to "get over it", I would never expect you to change your judgement regarding your children. However, if you find the house unlivable, my suggestion would be to post your "For Sale" signs in a location viewable from the shooting range parking lot, one of the patrons may be willing to take advantage of what you consider a liability. One man's trash and all that.

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