Archive for Sunday, December 11, 2011

Firing range litigation enters new round

December 11, 2011


The legal wrangling surrounding the Fraternal Order of Police firing range in Douglas County is not over.

And it has taken a different turn, now that a five-year legal battle over a county-approved conditional-use permit has been resolved.

A group of adjacent landowners or neighbors who live near the FOP’s Lawrence lodge north of Lone Star Lake have filed an appeal in Douglas County District Court to the Douglas County Commission’s Oct. 26 approval of a permit for the firing range. The FOP has operated a firing range on the site for 40 years without a permit.

“Ultimately the biggest concern my clients have is the issue of safety,” the neighbors’ attorney Ronald Schneider said Friday. “It is not the only issue, but that is the overarching issue.”

In the petition Schneider filed, he argued commissioners “unreasonably and arbitrarily” approved the permit without considering public health and safety issues, off-street parking, and protections for children and people on nearby properties.

“The board’s actions will cause plaintiffs’ properties to decrease in value and adversely affect their quiet and peaceful enjoyment of their respective homes and properties,” Schneider wrote.

The commissioners in October approved a permit for the firing range on the 94 acres that the FOP lodge owns, which would include regulations on hours of operation and finding a way to reduce noise levels. That process arose out of a five-year legal battle that included a lawsuit between the FOP lodge and the county about whether the FOP lodge even needed a permit with regulations for a firing range that had existed for four decades. A judge ruled in the county’s favor in that suit.

Schneider said the neighbors’ appeal was not related to that earlier suit.

County counselor Evan Ice said Friday discussions about the neighbors’ appeal would bring out more specifics.

“I’m really not in a position to make any public comment on it, but if it’s in the court system, we’ll deal with it,” Ice said.

The appeal was assigned to District Judge Michael Malone, and no hearings in the case have been scheduled.

Reporter George Diepenbrock can be reached at 832-7144. Follow him at


Chris Golledge 6 years, 5 months ago

“Ultimately the biggest concern my clients have is the issue of safety,” versus "...adversely affect their quiet..."

Really? You are worried about your safety.

a) They are policemen. b) Fourty years and how many accidents? c) Did you buy the house before the range was there? No? Then you really should have considered what you were buying more carefully.

love2fish_ks 6 years, 5 months ago

Darn skippy. Common sense ain't all that common

Horace 6 years, 5 months ago

"c) Did you buy the house before the range was there? No? Then you really should have considered what you were buying more carefully"

As far as the law is concerned, "c" is irrelevant. "Coming to the nuisance" is not a valid defense.

Chris Golledge 6 years, 5 months ago

I suppose you may be right, but that's like moving next to a feed lot and then complaining about the smell.

Horace 6 years, 5 months ago

"§ 29.05 Defenses to Liability for Private Nuisance [477-478]

At one time, many courts recognized a defense called coming to the nuisance; plaintiff who moved into the area after the offending conduct began was not entitled to recover. Today almost all courts reject this defense. However, a number of other defenses (e.g., laches, statute of limitations) may apply."

kawrivercrow 6 years, 5 months ago

Unfortunately, that is just one of a near-infinite number of reasons that most of society sees attorneys as despicable parasites and a burden on society.

pace 6 years, 5 months ago

Didn't some police man accidentally fire his weapon while he ate breakfast at the old Village Inn pancake house one morning? I know that customers had asked him to not "repair" his gun on a previous morning. On another morning, He again, sat there doing something with his gun and it went off. Didn't hit anyone.

I like shooting at targets, I shoot against a large hill. Bullets go a long way. Good question, is the back drop sufficient? No body should have to worry about being shot on their own property or not go on a section of property they own for fear of being shot.

Patrick Rooney 6 years, 5 months ago

You'd think they would feel safer knowing who's out there!

cato_the_elder 6 years, 5 months ago

The FOP firing range has been used for many years and is 100% safe. I've discharged firearms there many times. The nutcases who object need to move into the city, preferably downtown near one of the many bars or the Granada Theater, where they stand a much greater chance of being shot on a weekend by someone from Kansas City or Topeka than if they live in the vicinity of the firing range.

cato_the_elder 6 years, 5 months ago

Wow - another hater of the Second Amendment, and this early in the morning too.

pace 6 years, 5 months ago

Anyone who believes guns are 100% safe is a dangerous fool. That is the attitude that makes for dead bodies. It is necessary the police have a place to practice and learn gun handling. It is great that hunter safety is being taught there. I think the range sounds safe. The hill behind the range. but I haven't seen it. As for trees, they don't stop bullets but they do muffle sound. I wonder if there are other shooting areas than the main range? There should be a range master in charge, one who enforces safe habits and procedures. There should be safety procedures and they should be strictly enforced.
Neighbors have rights, doesn't matter if you think they don't' deserve them for some reason or other. Are there are areas susceptible to gun fire bordering the range that belong to other people. If so, you are basically saying don't walk your own land, you or your livestock will be killed. Guns can be pretty noisy.

pace 6 years, 5 months ago

Yes, I am for real, no I am not a neighbor or I would know more about the physical site. You have a theory, Name one sentence in my post that is inaccurate. Or do you just go with how you feel? I have lived next door to a property used as a training range. My dad donated it. One young officer thought by cutting the fence he could enlarge the range for the guys. He was a energetic guy, tore the back pasture up with his motor cycle. Oh and he shot, by some wild accident, my dad's favorite cow. Dad had a special recipe to feed his cattle (5). We ate it and it was great. My dad just told the guys not think no one would know what they were doing.He also laid some lumber with nails in it on the path the cycle made. He could watch em from his barn. my dad loved his barn, it had a wood stove and no phone. They also had a few who thought it was a great late night party site. So you tell me that nothing ever goes wrong, that no police officer ever varied from strict protocol or would ever make a mistake and I have a bridge to sell you. My Dad's best friend was an officer who lost his life. I do believe a range is necessary. That doesn't mean I think there are no problems with having a range next door. Nor do I think the neighbor's concerns or the neighbors need to be denigrated to be in support of the range.

skinny 6 years, 5 months ago

I am with the F.O.P. on this one. The F.O.P. has been out there for 40 years. They are out in the county away from everyone. The property owners who recently purchased their prperty knew the F.O.P. was there before they bought their property. The adjast property owners don't have a leg to stand on!! GET REAL!

I really don't even think the county even needed to issue a permit to begin with as a premit is not required for it's current use!

Alexander Smith 6 years, 5 months ago

This has nothing to do with safety, like someone said earlier, these are police officers and no issues for 40 years. Its a bunch of greedy land owners.

This is what kills me (no pun intended), these morons are making a stink about this but YET..YET.. if their lives are in stake they want the Police to take the bullet??? WTF.

How about this, lets put out a tax increase to help build a state of the art indoor shooting range?? Think these dorks will support it. most likely not.

First of all, I am guessing the fire range is not pointed at any homes. Next, if the morons that live there let their kids go on to a shooting range because they are to lazy to watch their own kids...its not the polices fault. I love how parents like to put the responsiblity of raising their kids on everyone else but themselves. Guess they are to busy playing with their iPads and texting.

pace 6 years, 5 months ago

there use to be an indoor range at the Topeka police department, when it was on 5th. I got my gun safety badge there. It is really hard to find a good range to shoot at. I think there is a market. If the City can have a darn commercial golf course, they should be able to have a commercial shooting range.

kufan1146 6 years, 5 months ago

They hold countless Hunter's Safety classes there. The hill they shoot into is literally 60 feet tall or higher. There is no safety risk. Not to mention, there are constantly gunshots going on in the country, especially during hunting season. Don't like it? Move to the city.

BlackVelvet 6 years, 5 months ago

How much do you think a state of the art indoor range would cost the taxpayers? And do you think all Police shootings take place indoors?

kufan1146 6 years, 5 months ago

I guarantee it would be upwards of 1M, especially if they had to build a new building for it. If it ain't broke...why fix it... this range works just fine.

50YearResident 6 years, 5 months ago

I think all the opposing land owners nearby should be given a tour and open house oppertunity to see how safe the range actually is. I have been there and believe me, there is no chance of a stray bullet ever leaving the range area. You have to see it to understand how the range is positioned. Noise, what little there is, can not harm neighbors either.

Getaroom 6 years, 5 months ago

Much ado about nothing - all the way around. Ol' Custer here should know all about the dangers of flying objects, how about a bow and arrow range autie?

Synjyn Smythe 6 years, 5 months ago

The complaints from the "group of adjacent landowners or neighbors who live near the FOP’s Lawrence lodge north of Lone Star Lake" should only be allowed against their realtors, those they purchased their respective properties from and themselves. The "FOP has operated a firing range on the site for 40 years." These complaining "landowners or neighbors" moved in sometime thereafter, mostly in the past 10 years or less. The FOP and the firing range were no secret when they moved in, and have been continuous. Where is the self-responsibility of these folks? Why, on earth, does the court system not kick them out immediately? This is as stupid as allowing someone who purchases hot coffee to sue McDonalds when they stumble and spill that hot coffee in their lap!!

Clevercowgirl 6 years, 5 months ago

+1. You shouldn't buy in an area, then complain about what is around you.

Cant_have_it_both_ways 6 years, 5 months ago

Another reason for a looser pay court system. These landowners and their ambulance chasing lawyer would think twice about this suit if it meant they would have to pay if they loose.

monkeywrench1969 6 years, 5 months ago

The only thing that will keep these neighbors from continuing this fight is the city and county building a new range someplace else which will cost the taxpayers of the city and county into the millions for the assessments, studies, land then the building of the structures and specials that will be required by codes and standards.

As many of the problems in Lawrence area the few rule the many. Common sense and the Google map obviously is very telling as to how close the neighbors really are.

The money would have to come from more taxes or bonds.

lily 6 years, 5 months ago

40 years and this is a problem now. I agree with an earlier poster that said complaints should be made to realtors etc. Is that what all this is about? Property deal gone bad? FOP doesn't have the lock on shooting in the county. If they have to have a permit then my relatives neighbors should. They were out shooting Thanksgiving day and we wouldn't let the kids outside because of it. There were no safety measures, no bluffs, buffers, walls etc but they could shoot all afternoon. So if FOP has to have these rules everyone should. And if the neighbors don't want them there, get the ball rolling for a new facility. Build it, maintain it, etc and see how you like it then. I bet the noise wouldn't such an issue if you looked at those numbers. Get real.

3up3down 6 years, 5 months ago

Just another "tail" looking to wag a dog. Get a life people. Sell your house and move back to Johnson county. I have been to this facility more times than I can count, it is safe and isolated. The neighbors to the property are also probably politically correct type people and say happy holidays. As 'Walter' from Jeff Dunham would say, "Screw you, it's Merry Christmas."

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