Firing range litigation enters new round

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.