Archive for Friday, November 16, 2007

Fraternal Order of Police asks to keep firing range

Nighttime gunshots at the group’s lodge southwest of Lawrence have upset neighbors

November 16, 2007


A lawsuit filed by the local chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police asks a judge to determine whether it can continue operating a firing range at the FOP lodge southwest of Lawrence.

The lawsuit is intended to resolve a dispute between the Douglas County government and FOP Lodge No. 2 over whether the 95-acre tract of land violates land-use policies. The county has sent a series of letters to the FOP saying the firing range on the lodge grounds violates zoning ordinances.

The FOP isn't asking for monetary damages from the county, just a ruling in its favor, according to a statement released by the FOP's attorney, Mike Riling.

The FOP obtained the grounds at 768 E. 661 Diagonal Road in 1967, according to the lawsuit. Three years later, the FOP obtained a building permit to construct a lodge at the site.

The county adopted zoning codes two years before the firing range was built, County Administrator Craig Weinaug said. The county has not found any documents saying that the range was "grandfathered in" or that special permits were obtained.

The dispute developed at least a year ago, when the county received a noise complaint from a neighbor near the lodge. That complaint led to a check of county records, Weinaug said. Some residents in the lodge area near Lone Star Lake were upset about hearing gunshots at night.

The FOP claims county leaders in the past have assured it that the lodge and firing range conformed with the county's zoning laws.

The firing range is used by Douglas County Sheriff's officers and Lawrence police under agreements with the FOP. Weinaug said the county is not interested in shutting down the lodge and its activities. Weinaug said he had asked the FOP to seek a conditional-use permit.

"We are interested in making sure it is legal," he said.


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